Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Feast of St. Andrew in 1554: A Holy Day of Reconciliation in England

On November 30, 1554, Reginald Cardinal Pole, the Papal Legate, soon to be Archbishop of Canterbury, received the submission of the English Parliament and granted absolution to the entire kingdom, reconclining England to the Holy See and the universal Catholic Church. As both Alison Weir and H.F.M. Prescott comment in their biographies of Mary I, the first Queen Regnant of England and Ireland, this must have been one of the happiest days of her life as she witnessed this solemn act. She was married to Philip of Spain, her cousin had returned, Parliament and Convocation were both repenting of the acts led by her father and her half-brother to separate England from the Catholic Church--and she believed she was pregnant (as her doctors had told her).

For this day to occur, several things had to be arranged and decided. First of all, for the Papal Legate to arrive in England, the Act of Attainder against Reginald Pole had to be removed by Parliament. This was the Act that condemned his mother Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, and many others to death. Parliament lifted this sentence of death and Mary invited the Papal Legate to return from exile on November 20, 1554. He would be the first Papal Legate present in England since the trial of her mother's marriage in 1529--when Katherine of Aragon appeared before Cardinal Campeggio and Cardinal Wolsey, appealed to Henry her husband and left the Court, impervious to pleas to return. The matter of former Church lands also had to be decided: Henry VIII and then Edward VI had seized the monasteries and then the chantries and the chantry schools, destroyed most of them, sold or given the lands to courtiers and others who benefitted. Were these all to be given back?

The Papal Legate wanted them back, but Mary was more concerned about alienating the Court and nobility her reign had so lately unified against the plots of Northumberland to replace her in the succession with Lady Jane Grey and that of Thomas Wyatt the younger to prevent the Spanish marriage and place her half-sister Elizabeth and young Edward Courtenay on the throne. So the lands and property stayed with their current owners.

On November 28 Cardinal Pole spoke to Parliament and asked them to repeal all the other acts that were obstacles to reunion. On November 29 Parliament did so and then petitioned Queen Mary to intercede with the Papal Legate for absolution and reunion with Rome (two members refused to sign the petition).

Then on St. Andrew's Day Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester and Mary's Chancellor, led the members of both houses of Parliament to kneel before the Papal Legate and Mary, presenting the petition. The petition proclaimed that Parliament was "very sorry and repentant of the schism and disobedience committed in this realm against the See Apostolic" and begged to be returned "into the bosom and unity of Christ's Church."

Cardinal Pole then welcomed "the return of the lost sheep" and granted absolution to the entire kingdom, proclaiming a new Holy Day on November 30: the Feast of Reconciliation. Unfortunately, Cardinal Pole and Mary I would have only three celebrations of this Feast (in 1555, 1556, and 1557)--both died on November 17, 1558, as the Once I Was a Clever Boy blog recounts. This year marks the 455th anniversary of their deaths.

Friday, November 29, 2013

How Hans Holbein Survived at Henry VIII's Court

 


Historical novelist Nancy Bilyeau describes Hans Holbein's career at Henry VIII's Court and how he survived painting the great portrait of Thomas More (perhaps residing in More's home in Chelsea) and painting the perhaps over flattering portrait of Anne of Cleves. Holbein had some trouble finding the right patrons and portrait subjects--Anne Boleyn was a patron for a time (she lost her head) and Thomas Cromwell was another protrait subject (and he lost his head). Another fascinating story about Henry VIII's Court.

I am curious about what happened to the portrait of More after the fall and execution of Thomas More: did Margaret Roper take the painting with her to the Continent? This site includes a great analysis of the painting, which is now in the Frick Collection, New York City, NY.

By the way, this site has a portrait from the studio of Hans Holbein of More's second wife Alice.

Culture and Abortion: Review in Homiletic & Pastoral Review

If you like, you may read my review of Culture and Abortion by Edward Short on the Homiletic & Pastoral Review site. You might remember that Mr. Short is also writing a trilogy on Blessed John Henry Newman: Newman and His Contemporaries; Newman and His Family; Newman and His Critics. I wrote the review of Culture and Abortion in August, just after Eydie Gorme died, and worked that circumstance in the review to make my point about the importance of what Short wanted to achieve in this book:

CULTURE AND ABORTION. By Edward Short. (Gracewing, LTD., Herefordshire, England 2013) ISBN: 978 085244 820 5. 308 pages; $22.46.

The big band, pop, and Latin singer Eydie Gorme, wife of Steve Lawrence, half of “Steve and Eydie,” died in August 2013. Some of my online friends posted videos of her singing some standards. One comment drew my attention–and response. The gist of the comment was that “we face too many dangers today to waste time enjoying this lady’s singing; you need to be talking to us about the challenges we face. We need to be lamenting and groaning in this valley of tears, not taking such useless pleasure.” My response was something like, “Remember the Catholic AND: we can do both. We can pray and prepare for whatever challenges may come our way AND enjoy Eydie Gorme’s talent and beauty. Finding pleasure in her songs does not diminish our concern for the state of the world—in fact, it’s a sign of the love we have for God’s creation.”

I’d say the same about this volume of essays from Edward Short: he demonstrates how in the midst of this valley of tears, in a culture obviously heading in the wrong direction in so many ways—in fact, toward a culture of death and destruction for humanity—we see all around us signs of the culture of life. He finds them in literature, in great men’s lives, in religious orders, in reform efforts, in Papal documents, and in the most unexpected places—and at the same time Short reminds us of the facts of our situation. In the spirit of the Gorme poster, some might say that we have to dedicate ourselves to political and social action to address these issues; that we don’t have time to read poetry and prose; but Short presents them with the Catholic AND. We do have time and we should make time.

Read the rest here. I'll be writing more reviews for Homiletic & Pastoral Review, as Father Meconi sent me a nice box of books that arrived earlier this week!

By the way, that's Lady Macbeth on the cover, failing to wash the blood from her little white hands.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

At Mass, we often sing Lutheran Chorales translated by Catherine Winkworth. Here is one by Martin Rinkart, written in the seventeenth century. Felix Mendelssohn used it in his Second Symphony, the Lobgesang or Hymn of Praise. Here is a link to a performance.

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessèd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Anglican Byrd

I just received this CD by The Cardinall's Musick of William Byrd's one great composition of Anglican church music: The Great Service. I listened to it once last night, but have to hear it again. After hearing so much of Byrd's Catholic liturgical music in Latin, this is taking some getting used to. The Great Service includes all the canticles of the Divine Office: The Benedictus, the Magnificat, the Nunc Dimittis, and the Te Deum, plus the Kyrie and the Credo. (The CD uses these Latin (and Greek) titles even though the words for each are in English, of course.) The program also includes four psalm settings and one "Carroll for Christmas Day" ("This day Christ was born").
 
The liner notes conjecture a bit about the composition of this Great Service and the fact that Byrd did not have it published in his lifetime. He wrote it during what Andrew Carwood calls a difficult decade--the 1580's--when England was plunged into fear of plots within and without. Carwood comments that the decade was also a rich creative period for William Byrd, including this work. Carwood states that "The Service is the result of considerable labour and is his only significant foray into the Anglican world. The Great Service is so good, it seems extraordinary that Byrd did not publish it . . ." Carwood believes Byrd wrote The Great Service as a kind of leave-taking from Court and the Chapel, because soon after its composition (although Carwood has no precise date), Byrd moved to Stondon Massey, where he was able to safely worship in the Catholic chapel of his patron, Sir John Petre.
 
In fact, The Great Service wasn't discovered in the modern world until 1922, when one Edmund Fellowes found a manuscript in Durham Cathedral!
 
This site provides some explanation of the use of The Great Service in Anglican public prayer:
 
The Church of England compressed the Daily Office of the Roman (Sarum) rite into two services: Mattins and Evensong. The morning service incorporated the Catholic Matin canticles of the Venite (Psalm 95) and the Te Deum, as well as the canticle sung at Lauds – the Benedictus (Zechariah’s song from Luke). The Jublilate (Psalm 100) was set as an alternative to the Benedictus, but rarely used in the 16th century. During the Communion the Creed may be sung, though more common to sing the Kyrie, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei. Byrd set the Creed and Kyrie. The evening service comprised the Magnificat from the Roman Vespers and the Nunc Dimittis from Compline (song of Simeon also from Luke). Essentially, Anglicanism took a ‘best-of’ approach to the Catholic liturgy and created what has become and remains to this day its morning and evening worship format.

Byrd took this English service, and its restriction to simple word-painting, and created his Anglican masterpiece. He added dimension by playing with text repetition and the possibilities of a flexible double choir. The common choral set-up of Mean-Alto-Alto-Tenor-Bass was used for each choir, named Decani and Cantoris [set-up]. Tactus is organized into two choirs of 8 voices ‘ 2 of S-A-T-B for each. This gives added responsibility to our altos, who when split carry their part individually (but altos like to flex their vocal muscles anyway). But Byrd’s use of these choirs is ingenious as at times he will steal a voice from one choir to add to the texture of the other, e.g. ‘As he promised to our forefather Abraham’ in the Magnificat is sung by A-A-A-T-B, using 2 altos and 1 tenor from Decani and the 3rd alto and bass from Cantoris. He constantly shifts colour, density, and imitation of sound by playing with these possibilities, including sections sung by low voices and others by high, and the alternation of ‘full’ and ‘verse’ (solo) passages. Within the parameters of the new Anglican palate, Byrd’s composition is highly creative. He likely starting composing the work relatively early, before 1580, with the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis later, as demonstrated by their more mature, confident, and elaborate schemes.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Layman and a Priest in York: Martyrs under the New Acts of Treason

Two of the Eighty-five Martyrs of England and Wales beatified by Blessed John Paul II, a layman Blessed Marmaduke Bowes and a priest, Blessed Hugh Taylor suffered in York on November 26, 1585 in York.

The most important point about these two martyrs is that they were the first to be executed under the 1584 act against the Jesuits (or any other Catholic priests) who had been born in England or Wales and then traveled to the Continent for ordination and then returned as missionaries to the recusant Catholic community, and against those who assisted them.

Blessed Marmaduke Bowes was born in Ingram Grange in Yorkshire: Married layman and father. Fearful of the persecutions of the day, he was a covert Catholic who put in appearances in the Established church to keep the authorities away. He sheltered priests on the run, and had his children raised Catholic. In 1585 his children's tutor was arrested and bribed to apostatize, turn informer, and denounce Bowes for helping priests. Bowes and his wife were arrested and imprisoned in York; she was released, but Marmaduke was convicted on the statements of the tutor.

He was the first layman executed under the law that made helping priests a felony. He was hung on the 26th of November in 1585, along with Blessed Hugh Taylor, who had just arrived in York in March 1585, after his ordination in Rheims in 1584. We don't have much other detail about Blessed Hugh Taylor: I suppose we could imagine him growing up in a recusant family and being prepared to endure exile, danger, and death for his parents' Catholic faith. Or, he could have grown up in an Anglican family, read the Fathers, questioned the validity of the Church of England and secretly converted, traveling to Rheims for study and ordination, returning to England to almost immediate capture

Father Taylor was the first to suffer under the Statute 27 Eliz. c. 2. against priests as traitors passed by Parliament in 1584. Most of the Catholics executed after 1584 suffered under this statute (there were a few executed under the 1571 and 1581 statutes which made it treasonous to call the monarch a heretic or to convert or induce someone else to become Catholic, respectively). Blessed John Britton was martyred under the 1571 Statute, for example, in 1598. Blessed George Errington suffered hanging, drawing, and quartering in 1596 under the 1581 Statue, in another example, The priests who suffered before 1584 were found guilty of simple treason, which usually, as in the case of Saints Campion, Briant and Sherwin coming up on December 1, meant that the Crown accused the priests of some conspiracy against the Queen.

Blessed Marmaduke may be called a martyr in spite of himself--he had tried to maintain a public face of conformity, attending Church of England services to avoid suspicion or fines, but secretly he helped priests and raised his children in the Catholic Faith. Betrayed by a Catholic, he was arrested and charged based on evidence offered by his children's tutor.

The Unknown Purcell


Daniel Purcell, who is either Henry Purcell's younger brother or a cousin, died on November 26, 1717. According to this site,

Daniel Purcell (c.1663-1717) was a musician, composer, socialite and punster. He was a child in the choir of the Chapel Royal, organist at Magdalen College, Oxford, and composer-in-residence at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane. His output was prolific, consisting of music for some fifty plays, as well as many anthems, cantatas, songs, odes, and instrumental sonatas.

Whilst in Oxford, Daniel Purcell was also a member of an Oxford Music Club, which also counted Richard Goodson, the organist of Christ Church, and James Brydges, Duke of Chandos and later famously patron to Handel, amongst its membership.

Of Daniel's works, it is probably the theatre music which is most of interest, ranging from single songs for sometimes ill-fated productions to whole 'Purcellian' Dramatick Operas such as The Island Princess (Motteux, 1699), and The Grove, or Love's Paradise (Oldmixon, 1700). His cantatas 'after the Italian Manner' (1713) were some of the first examples of their style in the English language, and, whilst he held no official appointment, his composition of odes for Princess (later Queen) Anne, and various other members of the Royal family, show his close connections with court life.

The wikipedia article also cites Purcell's music for Choral Evensong as being the most performed of his music today. Here is a performance of his Magnificat, by a group called Novi Cantores. Presto Classical offers this CD from Priory which includes his Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis from Chicester Cathedral and also have this CD from Chandos (cover pictured above): The Unknown Purcell:

On this recording we have a selection of works for solo harpsichord and for violin and continuo by Daniel Purcell, most of which are premiere recordings. Traditionally, Daniel Purcell has been known primarily as the younger brother of Henry Purcell (though a strong argument can be made that they were cousins), and it has been said that it was from this family connection only that he derived ‘what little reputation which as a musician he possessed’ (Sir John Hawkins). It is not true, however, that Daniel’s legacy was based entirely on the fame of Henry. Daniel lived for over twenty years after Henry’s death in 1695, adopting styles and forms that only became popular in England around 1700, including the da capo aria, the Italianate cantata and – most relevant to this recording – the solo sonata.
 
Nearly all of Daniel Purcell’s surviving solo harpsichord music consists of arrangements, the only clear exception being the short Toccata, a brief essay in the style of the preludes from Henry Purcell’s harpsichord suites. The Suite is a simple but effective arrangement of movements from the composer’s own suite, for four-part strings, for Farquhar’s play The Inconstant. The expressive Rondeau is also likely an arrangement of a piece for four-part strings. The other three harpsichord pieces are simple arrangements of Daniel’s songs, derived from Oxford manuscripts, and reflecting Daniel’s links with the city.

Choral Evensong is part of the "Anglican Patrimony" the Ordinariate brings to the Catholic Church, and this blog has a post that demonstrates even how its celebration is an outreach to those Anglo-Catholics remaining in the Church of England (pray it is not too long before they join the "old true flock of Christ" as Blessed John Henry Newman proclaimed!).

Monday, November 25, 2013

Two Royal Consorts Born on November 25

Charles I's Queen Consort, Henrietta Maria, was born on November 25, 1609, and Catherine of Braganza, Charles II's Queen Consort was born on the same date in 1638. Their married lives could not be more different: Charles I was a faithful and loving husband; his son Charles II was an impossibly unfaithful spouse. Nevertheless, their careers as consorts were both marked by the fact that they were Catholic princesses married to Anglican monarchs, facing conflict with Parliament because of their religion.


Henrietta Maria was the sister of the most Catholic King of France, Louis XIII and had been sent to England with a mission to convert her Anglican husband. She was not crowned Queen of England because she could not receive Holy Communion in the Church of England. At first her arranged marriage to Charles I was as unhappy as one could be when the husband had a male favorite who opposed her possible influence on the young monarch. But once Buckingham was assassinated, Charles and Henrietta Maria grew to love each other.

As Charles became so uxurious, there were some who feared that he would become a Catholic just to please his wife and the mother of their growing brood. Conversions at Court and the very presence of Catholic priest and sacraments at Court were unsettling to the Puritans in Parliament. She was attractive and gathered Catholics and converts around her. Henrietta Maria honored the Catholic martyrs of the past two reigns, processing to Tyburn Tree and praying there. She also worked to protect Catholic priests during her husband's reign, pleading for their release.

When the Civil War began, Charles and his queen set up court in Oxford. She used the chapel at Merton College for Mass. Eventually Henrietta Maria fled England, home to France after a stop in the Netherlands, because she was attainted a traitor by Parliament. She worked hard to raise funds for her husband's cause and was bitterly grieved by his capture and execution.

Upon the Restoration of the Monarchy in the person of her son Charles II she returned to England for a time but then came back home to France, always wearing mourning for her husband. Henrietta Maria died in France on September 9, 1669; she had been given a dose of opiates and did not revive. She was 60 years old and had been a widow for 20 years.

More about Henrietta Maria here, especially about her efforts to support her husband during the English Civil War.

Charles II married a Catholic wife who brought with her dowry the port cities of Tangier and Bombay. She did not speak English when she and Charles married in 1662. Catherine had to accept Charles' rampant infidelity and also endured several miscarriages. Nevertheless, he would not contemplate divorcing her even during the Exclusion Crisis when Parliament urged him to do so in order to have a legitimate Protestant heir to succeed him rather than James, the Catholic Duke of York. Charles always took her side in any conflict with a mistress regarding her position at Court, although never to the point of actually practicing fidelity. While she did not have any surviving children, his mistresses bore his illegitimate children, whom Charles acknowledged and supported.

He definitely defended her against allegations during the infamous faux Popish Plot incident, when Parliament wanted her banished.

Along with James, the Duke of York, Catherine hoped for Charles's conversion to Catholicism on his deathbed. Father John Huddleston, who had helped him escape Scotland in 1650, did receive him and Charles died a repentant Catholic, hopefully.

After Charles died in 1685, Catherine remained at Court; with the fall of James II in 1688 and the invasion and coup by William and Mary of Orange, however, she returned to Portugal in 1692. She died in Lisbon on December 31, 1705 and is buried in the great Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon. More about Catherine here.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Solemnity of Christ the King and the English Martyrs

It was on the Solemnity of Jesus Christ the King of the Universe in 1987 (November 22) that Blessed John Paul II beatified the Eighty-Five Martyrs of England and Wales:

This feast of Christ the King proclaims that all earthly power is ultimately from God, that his Kingdom is our first and lasting concern and that obedience to his laws is more important than any other obligation or loyalty.

Thomas More, that most English of saints, declared on the scaffold: “I die the King’s good servant but God’s servant first". In this way he witnessed to the primacy of the Kingdom.

Today we have declared Blessed another eighty-five martyrs: from England, Scotland and Wales, and one from Ireland. Each of them chose to be "God’s servant First". They consciously and willingly embraced death for love of Christ and the Church. They too chose the Kingdom above all else. If the price had to be death they would pay it with courage and joy.

Blessed Nicholas Postgate welcomed his execution "as a short cut to heaven". Blessed Joseph Lambton encouraged those who were to die with him with the words "Let us be merry, for tomorrow I hope we shall have a heavenly breakfast". Blessed Hugh Taylor, not knowing the day of his death, said: "How happy I should be if on this Friday, on which Christ died for me, I might encounter death for him". He was executed on that very day, Friday 6 November 1585. Blessed Henry Heath, who died in 1643, thanked the court for condemning him and giving him the "singular honour to die with Christ".

Among these eighty-five martyrs we find priests and laymen, scholars and craftsmen. The oldest was in his eighties, and the youngest no more than twenty-four. There were among them a printer, a bartender, a stable-hand, a tailor. What unites them all is the sacrifice of their lives in the service of Christ their Lord.

The priests among them wished only to feed their people with the Bread of Life and with the Word of the Gospel. To do so meant risking their lives. But for them this price was small compared to the riches they could bring to their people in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

The twenty-two laymen in this group of martyrs shared to the full the same love of the Eucharist. They, too, repeatedly risked their lives, working together with their priests, assisting, protecting and sheltering them. Laymen and priests worked together; together they stood on the scaffold and together welcomed death. Many women, too, not included today in this group of martyrs, suffered for their faith and died in prison. They have earned our undying admiration and remembrance.

These martyrs gave their lives for their loyalty to the authority of the Successor of Peter, who alone is Pastor of the whole flock. They also gave their lives for the unity of the Church, since they shared the Church’s fait, unaltered down the ages, that the Successor of Peter has been given the task of serving and ensuring "the unity of the flock of Christ". He has been given by Christ the particular role of confirming the faith of his brethren.

The martyrs grasped the importance of that Petrine ministry. They gave their lives rather than deny this truth of their faith. Over the centuries the Church in England, Wales and Scotland has drawn inspiration from these martyrs and continues in love of the Mass and in faithful adherence to the Bishop of Rome. The same loyalty and faithfulness to the Pope is demonstrated today whenever the work of renewal in the Church is carried out in accordance with the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and in communion with the universal Church.

Central to this renewal, to which the Holy Spirit calls the Church, is work for that unity among Christians for which Christ himself prayed. We must all rejoice that the hostilities between Christians, which so shaped the age of these martyrs, are over, replaced by fraternal love and mutual esteem.

Seventeen years ago [1970] forty of the glorious company of martyrs were canonized. It was the prayer of the Church on that day that the blood of those martyrs would be a source of healing for the divisions between Christians. Today we may fittingly give thanks for the progress made in the intervening years towards fuller communion between Anglicans and Catholics. We rejoice in the deeper understanding, broader collaboration and common witness that have taken place through the power of God.

In the days of the martyrs whom we honour today, there were other Christians who died for their beliefs. We can all now appreciate and respect their sacrifice. Let us respond together to the great challenge which confronts those who would preach the Gospel in our age. Let us be bold and united in our profession of our common Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.

Last year the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, celebrated Mass in thanksgiving for the 25th anniversary of these beatifications--and in his sermon he noted the detail that 10,000 English Catholics attended the ceremony in Rome! You may find a link to his sermon here.

Blessed Martyrs of England and Wales, pray for us!

Friday, November 22, 2013

November 22, 1963: Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell


The mainstream media has been recalling the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, fifty years ago with specials showing the news reporting that day--all the images of men and women, all formally dressed with hats and suits and ties and nice coats, and all the cigarettes! Nearly all of the news anchors have a smoking cigarette between their fingers and an ashtray on their desk. All the conspiracy theories are being described and detailed--did Lee Harvey Oswald really act alone?

Catholic media organizations are also remembering the assassination of John F. Kennedy with analysis of what it meant that he was the first and only Catholic elected President of the United States. Was it good for Catholics, especially since Kennedy had to promise the Houston Ministerial Association that his Catholic faith would never influence his presidential decisions? Thank you, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale! As Russell Shaw commented:

Houston, September 12, 1960. John F. Kennedy is addressing the Houston Ministerial Association. Kennedy, the Democratic candidate for the presidency, has been buffeted for months by nativist anti-Catholicism. He and his advisors have concluded that he must address the problem head-on.

JFK's address to the ministers in Houston was the result. It's said to have been the work of John Cogley, Commonweal editor and later religion writer for the New York Times, who eventually quit the Catholic Church, became an Episcopalian, and was an Episcopal deacon when he died.

Although the speech's reasoning doesn't stand up under close examination, Kennedy's Houston text is a superficially skillful piece of work. There's hardly a statement in it to which, taken in isolation, a reasonable person could object. But the speech as a whole is a sustained exercise in privatizing religion. Declaring his faith to be his business and no one else's, Kennedy puts daylight between himself and his Church and pledges that, if he's elected, religion won't influence his performance. The Houston speech did the trick: Kennedy was elected. But the text stands as a landmark in the process of excluding religion from the public square that's still underway.

Shaw also analyzed the Kennedy candidacy and election and their influence on Catholic assimilation and secularization in his book, American Church.

I remember that my grandmother had a "funeral card" of President Kennedy in her prayerbook: a picture of JFK with prayers for the repose of his soul and another card with a poem (written by Kennedy in heaven!) expressing his love for his family and especially his pride when his little boy saluted the cassion during his funeral procession.

But on November 22, 1963, two other prominent men died--C.S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley. Peter Kreeft wrote a book (Between Heaven and Hell: A Dialog Somewhere Beyond Death with John F. Kennedy, C. S. Lewis & Aldous Huxley) that depicts a Platonic style dialog among the men after they've died:

On November 22, 1963, three great men died within a few hours of each other: C. S. Lewis, John F. Kennedy and Aldous Huxley. All three believed, in different ways, that death is not the end of human life. Suppose they were right, and suppose they met after death. How might the conversation go?

Peter Kreeft imagines their discussion as a part of The Great Conversation that has been going on for centuries. Does human life have meaning? Is it possible to know about life after death? What if one could prove that Jesus was God? With Kennedy taking the role of a modern humanist, Lewis representing Christian theism and Huxley advocating Eastern pantheism, the dialogue is lively and informative.
Here's an excerpt:

Kennedy: That's just what I can't buy: that old-fashioned theology of God descending from heaven like a meteor.
Lewis: All right, then, let's be very specific. Who is Jesus, according to your faith?
Kennedy: The ideal man, the man so perfect and wise that his followers called him divine. Not God become man but man become God.
Lewis: A very nicely put summary of humanist Christology; but do you think this is Christianity?
Kennedy: Old Christianity, no; New Christianity, yes. The only form of it a modern man can believe without giving up his intellectual honesty. I heard a preacher put it this way: you can be honest, or intelligent, or a medieval-style Christian, or any two of the three, but not all three. Work that out for yourself.
Lewis: Very clever, but the same barb can be used to sting anyone. I can say you can be honest, or intelligent, or a modernist, or any two of the three, but not all three. The substantive point, as distinct from the debater's nicety, is the identity of Jesus. Let's zero in on that issue.
Kennedy: Fine. Who is Jesus?
Lewis: God become man.
Kennedy: Literally?
Lewis: Yes.
Kennedy: How can you as an educated twentieth-century man take such an outdated position?
Lewis: As distinct from your new, modern one?
Kennedy: Yes.
Lewis: Because for one thing, your new position is as old as the hills. Or, at least, as old as Arius.
Kennedy: Who?
Lewis: Arius, a fourth-century heretic who carried half the church with him even after the Council of Nicea addressed the issue by clearly and strongly affirming Jesus' divinity. The same thing is happening again today with modernism and humanism. Your so-called new Christianity is nothing but the old Arian heresy in new dress.
Kennedy: Really, now, there's no need to call each other names.
Lewis: I didn't call you a name; I just labeled your position accurately.
Kennedy: I wish you would avoid using labels like heretic.
Read more here.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Henry Purcell, RIP

Henry Purcell died on November 21, 1695. The wikipedia article on this great English Baroque composer includes some excerpts from his compositions, while this "Online Gallery" from the British Library features portraits and excerpts. Like the sixteenth composers Tallis and Byrd, Purcell lived through dynastic changes that effected changes in his music style and career.

This biography from The Purcell Society describes some of those changes:

During the 1680s, Purcell was frequently called upon to compose a large-scale ode or ‘welcome song’ to mark a special event in the royal calendar. In 1682, he was appointed as a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, and, in the following year, his first published collection appeared. This was the Sonnata's of III. Parts, for two violins, bass viol and continuo. His best-known composition, the dramatic entertainment Dido and Aeneas, was also written during the 1680s, though it is not certain when the first performance took place.

In 1689, William and Mary were crowned King and Queen, and there seem to have been fewer opportunities at court for composers than under their predecessors, Charles II and James II. Purcell turned to the theatre, writing four large-scale operatic works between 1690 and 1695, as well as incidental music for numerous plays. He continued to write court odes, however, including one each year between 1689 and 1694 to mark the birthday of Queen Mary. He also composed music for her state funeral, which took place in March 1695. Just a few months later, on 21 November 1695, Purcell himself died.



Since he wrote music both to celebrate her birthday and to commemorate her passing, this recording by the Choir of King's College Cambridge and the Academy of Ancient Music, conducted by Stephen Cleobury, looks like an interesting collection.

Gerard Manley Hopkins praised Purcell in verse:

The poet wishes well to the divine genius of Purcell and praises him that, whereas other musicians have given utterance to the moods of man’s mind, he has, beyond that, uttered in notes the very make and species of man as created both in him and in all men generally.

HAVE, fair fallen, O fair, fair have fallen, so dear
To me, so arch-especial a spirit as heaves in Henry Purcell,
An age is now since passed, since parted; with the reversal
Of the outward sentence low lays him, listed to a heresy, here.

Not mood in him nor meaning, proud fire or sacred fear,
Or love or pity or all that sweet notes not his might nursle:
It is the forgèd feature finds me; it is the rehearsal
Of own, of abrupt self there so thrusts on, so throngs the ear.

Let him Oh! with his air of angels then lift me, lay me! only I’ll
Have an eye to the sakes of him, quaint moonmarks, to his pelted plumage under
Wings: so some great stormfowl, whenever he has walked his while

The thunder-purple seabeach plumèd purple-of-thunder,
If a wuthering of his palmy snow-pinions scatter a colossal smile
Off him, but meaning motion fans fresh our wits with wonder.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Ballad of the White Horse

The Wichita "local society" of the American Chesterton Society is reading Chesterton's The Ballad of the White Horse. We meet on the third Friday of every month at Eighth Day Books and are using the Ignatius Press edition of the poem:

The Ballad of the White Horse is one of the last great epic poems in the English language. On the one had it describes King Alfred’s battle against the Danes in 878. On the other hand it is a timeless allegory about the ongoing battle between Christianity and the forces of nihilistic heathenism. Filled with colorful characters, thrilling battles and mystical visions, it is as lively as it is profound.

Chesterton incorporates brilliant imagination, atmosphere, moral concern, chronological continuity, wisdom and fancy. He makes his stanzas reverberate with sound, and hurries his readers into the heart of the battle.  This deluxe volume is the definitive edition of the poem. It exactly reproduces the 1928 edition with Robert Austin’s beautiful woodcuts, and includes a thorough introduction and wonderful endnotes by Sister Bernadette Sheridan, from her 60 years researching the poem. Illustrated.

Dale Ahlquist provides an overview here. We were thrilled as we read aloud the King Alfred's answer to the three Danes in Book III, "The Harp of Alfred":

He heaved the head of the harp on high
And swept the framework barred,
And his stroke had all the rattle and spark
Of horses flying hard.

"When God put man in a garden
He girt him with a sword,
And sent him forth a free knight
That might betray his lord;

"He brake Him and betrayed Him,
And fast and far he fell,
Till you and I may stretch our necks
And burn our beards in hell.

"But though I lie on the floor of the world,
With the seven sins for rods,
I would rather fall with Adam
Than rise with all your gods.

"What have the strong gods given?
Where have the glad gods led?
When Guthrum sits on a hero's throne
And asks if he is dead?

"Sirs, I am but a nameless man,
A rhymester without home,
Yet since I come of the Wessex clay
And carry the cross of Rome,

"I will even answer the mighty earl
That asked of Wessex men
Why they be meek and monkish folk,
And bow to the White Lord's broken yoke;
What sign have we save blood and smoke?
Here is my answer then.


"That on you is fallen the shadow,
And not upon the Name;
That though we scatter and though we fly,
And you hang over us like the sky,
You are more tired of victory,
Than we are tired of shame.

"That though you hunt the Christian man
Like a hare on the hill-side,
The hare has still more heart to run
Than you have heart to ride.

"That though all lances split on you,
All swords be heaved in vain,
We have more lust again to lose
Than you to win again.

"Your lord sits high in the saddle,
A broken-hearted king,

But our king Alfred, lost from fame,
Fallen among foes or bonds of shame,
In I know not what mean trade or name,
Has still some song to sing;

"Our monks go robed in rain and snow,
But the heart of flame therein,
But you go clothed in feasts and flames,
When all is ice within;

"Nor shall all iron dooms make dumb
Men wondering ceaselessly,
If it be not better to fast for joy
Than feast for misery.

"Nor monkish order only
Slides down, as field to fen,

All things achieved and chosen pass,
As the White Horse fades in the grass,
No work of Christian men.

"Ere the sad gods that made your gods
Saw their sad sunrise pass,
The White Horse of the White Horse Vale,
That you have left to darken and fail,
Was cut out of the grass.

"Therefore your end is on you,
Is on you and your kings,
Not for a fire in Ely fen,
Not that your gods are nine or ten,
But because it is only Christian men
Guard even heathen things.

"For our God hath blessed creation,
Calling it good. I know
What spirit with whom you blindly band
Hath blessed destruction with his hand;
Yet by God's death the stars shall stand
And the small apples grow."

And the King, with harp on shoulder,
Stood up and ceased his song;
And the owls moaned from the mighty trees,
And the Danes laughed loud and long.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Charles Carroll, Poet?

Mary Ellen Bork writes for The National Catholic Register about Charles Carroll and a poem he wrote while at St. Omers:

What madman would exchange present gifts for those unseen? You fly from real blessings, blessings unreal you chase. Purge, I pray, these vain dreams from your fevered mind, and drive the hope deep-embedded far from your heart."
 
Charles Carroll, the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, wrote these lines in 1753, while at St. Omer’s College, in a poem recently discovered at the Christian Heritage Centre at Stonyhurst College in England.
 
This discovery came from the oldest surviving museum collection in the English-speaking world, and its directors are eager to make its riches more available through digitizing and expansion.
 
On a visit to the United States, Lord David Alton, a prominent British Catholic and pro-life leader and an advocate for religious freedom, and Lord Nicholas Windsor, cousin to Queen Elizabeth II and a Catholic convert, said they see this collection of artifacts, relics and art as a critical reminder of what religious freedom costs, namely the blood of martyrs.
 
And she goes on to explain the significance of the poem and of Carroll's attendance at St. Omer's, along with his cousin John:
 
Both Charles and John Carroll, inspired by their knowledge of English Catholic history, fought for the right of Catholics to practice their religion at a time of strong anti-Catholic sentiment.
 
Knowing more about the history of the English Catholic struggle can better prepare us for the work of re-evangelization and defending our own religious freedom. Remembering our past will give us hope for the future.
 
Curator Jan Graffius said that Charles Carroll was 17 when he wrote this poem in Latin for a recitation on the feast of St. Cecilia. The tyrant Amachius, having sentenced Cecilia to death, pressured her to worship Roman gods in order to save her life, her youth and her beauty. The poem shows that young Charles saw clearly the corrosiveness of compromise.
 
Recitation formed an important part of the Jesuit education that started in the school, originally called St. Omer’s, which was founded in 1593 by Father Robert Persons during the persecution of Catholics by Queen Elizabeth I. There were no Catholic schools allowed in England, so the boys were smuggled out of their country to the school outside of Calais in France, then under Spanish rule. If they were caught leaving England, the penalty was imprisonment or death.
 
The school’s brave mission is engraved above the door: "Jesus, Jesus, convert England; may it be, may it be." Many students became priests and went back to England to preach the faith.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Tintern Abbey: The Ruins and Wordsworth's Memories


Tintern Abbey's ruins are a great tourist destination now, per this website:

The appeal of this exceptional Cistercian abbey remains as enduring as ever

An area of outstanding beauty complemented by this outstanding beauty in stone. If only the walls could talk! The chants of countless monks echo through the masonry here. Despite the shell of this grand structure being open to the skies, it remains the best-preserved medieval abbey in Wales. Although the abbey church was rebuilt under the patronage of Roger Bigod, lord of nearby Chepstow Castle, in the late 13th century, the monastery retains its original design.

Tintern was only the second Cistercian foundation in Britain, and the first in Wales. The present-day remains are a mixture of building works covering a 400-year period between 1131 and 1536. Very little remains of the first buildings but you will marvel at the vast windows and later decorative details displayed in the walls, doorways and soaring archways.

The lands of the abbey were divided into agricultural units or granges, worked on by lay brothers.

On September 3, 1536 Abbot Wyche surrendered Tintern Abbey to King Henry VIII’s officials and ended a way of life which had lasted 400 years.

There’s a lot still going on at Tintern Abbey 500 years on! A major two-year programme of conservation work has been completed on the iconic 13th-century west front – one of the great glories of Gothic architecture in Britain. The statue of Our Lady of Tintern is installed in the south aisle of the abbey for all to see.


If only the Blessed Sacrament and the Altar and the Work of God could be restored there--not just the statue of Our Lady of Tintern--and the ruin not just echo with the memories of chant!

It was on July 13 in 1789 that William Wordsworth and his sister Mary visited Tintern Abbey and as David Lehman writes in The Wall Street Journal, William then wrote a great Romantic poem about memory and nature: "Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey, on revisiting the banks of the Wye during a tour". Lehman tells us why it is a great work of art. The poem

presents the crisis of melancholy, specifically the melancholy over the passing of youth. If the majestic prospect of a ruined 12th-century church on the Welsh side of the River Wye triggers the meditation, the landscape's fourth dimension—time as an almost palpable presence—dominates it. Five years have gone by since the poet last stood here. Now his thoughts turn naturally to the changes since then and to trepidations over what may ensue.
 
Wordsworth has a fierce nostalgia for boyhood—"when like a roe / I bounded o'er the mountains, by the sides / Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams, / Wherever nature led." But the reality principle is strong in him; he shuts off the reverie in four curt syllables: "That time is past." The crisis is solved, the melancholy fit cured, by the key apprehension of a divinity located not in the remote heavens but on earth, in nature. The conviction that there is "a motion and a spirit that impels / All thinking things, all objects of all thought, / And rolls through all things" expresses itself with the force of a soul-restoring epiphany. . . .
 
The poem is a triumph emotionally. The seemingly spontaneous overflow of feelings in the last movement of the poem—the prayer addressed to Dorothy Wordsworth—may bring tears to your eyes. I know no finer or more tender expression of a man's love for his sister. The poem is a triumph, too, of the "cheerful faith" that reconciles us to losses and compensates for them. It comes as close as Wordsworth ever did to achieving a metrical ideal: the language approaching prose, with the fixed meter acting as a firm restraint.

You may find the text of the poem here.

Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons

St. Hugh of Lincoln, Carthusian and Bishop


Except that this is Sunday, today, November 17 is the feast of St Hugh of Lincoln. According to this site:

Hugh of Lincoln was the son of William, Lord of Avalon. He was born at Avalon Castle in Burgundy and was raised and educated at a convent at Villard-Benoit after his mother died when he was eight. He was professed at fifteen, ordained a deacon at nineteen, and was made prior of a monastery at Saint-Maxim. While visiting the Grande Chartreuse with his prior in 1160. It was then he decided to become a Carthusian there and was ordained. After ten years, he was named procurator and in 1175 became Abbot of the first Carthusian monastery in England. This had been built by King Henry II as part of his penance for the murder of Thomas Becket.

His reputation for holiness and sanctity spread all over England and attracted many to the monastery. He admonished Henry for keeping Sees vacant to enrich the royal coffers. Income from the vacant Sees went to the royal treasury. He was then named bishop of the eighteen year old vacant See of Lincoln in 1186 - a post he accepted only when ordered to do so by the prior of the Grande Chartreuse. Hugh quickly restored clerical discipline, labored to restore religion to the diocese, and became known for his wisdom and justice.

He was one of the leaders in denouncing the persecution of the Jews that swept England, 1190-91, repeatedly facing down armed mobs and making them release their victims. He went on a diplomatic mission to France for King John in 1199, visiting the Grande Chartreuse, Cluny, and Citeaux, and returned from the trip in poor health. A few months later, while attending a national council in London, he was stricken and died two months later at the Old Temple in London on November 16. He was canonized twenty years later, in 1220, the first Carthusian to be so honored.

The Charterhouse St. Hugh of Lincoln led was at Witham in Somerset and this site provides details of St. Hugh's founding, really of the priory, since so little had been done when he arrived:

It was probably in 1179 (fn. 83) that at the request of Henry II a few Carthusian monks, how many we do not know, left their home near Grenoble to found in England the first house of their order. Norbert (fn. 84) came as the leader of the band and the first prior of the new house and with him Aynard and one Gerard of Nevers. But no preparations had been made for them, the villein tenants did not welcome them, for they were foreigners, nor did they agree, except after compensation, to be removed from their houses and lands. For the monks themselves no shelter had been provided. So very soon Prior Norbert gave up in despair and returned to Carthusia, regarding it as impossible to establish a house there unless they had more support than the king seemed disposed to give. In succession to him another, whose name is not given, was sent forth, and he died soon after from exposure and the severity of the climate. Then it was that Henry II took up the matter with some earnestness. He was arranging a marriage for his son John with Agnes the daughter of Humbert III Count of Maurienne and he asked the latter's advice concerning the difficulties at Witham. Count Humbert mentioned Hugh of Avalon, already the foremost of the monks of Carthusia, as the man most likely to succeed, though he warned Henry how he was valued, and how difficult it would be to get him to leave his monastery and come to England. Henry nevertheless persevered and sent Reginald, Bishop of Bath, and others on the errand to the monastery to ask definitely for Hugh of Avalon. At first the prior was unwilling to part with him, (fn. 85) for he was procurator of the house and much valued, and Hugh on his part regarding himself as unfit to undertake the task, definitely refused his consent; but the Bishop of Grenoble, John de Sassenage, had been won over, probably by Bishop Reginald, and at his entreaty the prior gave way and Hugh of Avalon started for England. On his arrival, which seems to have been in 1180, he found that nothing had been done at Witham and all practically had to be begun towards the new foundation. He stipulated that the tillers of the soil, the poor villein tenants, should receive no loss in being compelled to change their abode, and he endeavoured to persuade the king to indemnify them for the houses they had built, which now had to be pulled down. Certainly he seems to have set about the work in earnest, obtaining only after constant pressure on Henry II the necessary means. He is said to have built houses for the monks and the lay brethren, and the metrical life of St. Hugh records that he built the walls of the chapel and vaulted it in stone. The existing church at Witham is generally regarded as the church of the Conversi or lay brethren. The walls seem older than the time of Hugh, and apparently had buttresses attached to them for the purpose of strengthening them to carry the weight of the stone roof.

The last prior and 12 monks surrendered Witham on the 15th of March in 1539, received their pensions--and avoided the fate of many of the Carthusians of the Charterhouse of London, and the priories at Beauvale and Axholme.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Froude's Remains and the Oxford Martyrs Memorial

Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons

On October 16, 1555, Protestant bishops Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley were burned at the stake in Oxford, having been tried and convicted of heresy during the reign of Queen Mary I. In 1843, a Gothic style memorial, designed by George Gilbert Scott, was erected at the intersection of St. Gile's, Magdalen and Beaumont streets near Balliol College. Why was the memoral erected 288/287 years after the martyrdom of Latimer, Ridley, and Thomas Cranmer (executed on March 21, 1556)? Why did the memorial include such a pointedly anti-Catholic dedication?

To the Glory of God, and in grateful commemoration of His servants, Thomas Cranmer, Nicholas Ridley, Hugh Latimer, Prelates of the Church of England, who near this spot yielded their bodies to be burned, bearing witness to the sacred truths which they had affirmed and maintained against the errors of the Church of Rome, and rejoicing that to them it was given not only to believe in Christ, but also to suffer for His sake; this monument was erected by public subscription in the year of our Lord God, MDCCCXLI.

The memorial project was launched in response to the Oxford Movement and the publication of Richard Hurrell Froude's Remains, which demonstrated the late Oriel Fellow's interest in some Catholic devotions, in 1838, two years after his death. Newman and Keble, when editing the Remains, included a Preface containing strong denials tht Froude would have considered becoming a Catholic! Nevertheless, the Reverend Charles Pourtales Golightly (who did not "go lightly"), formerly John Henry Newman's curate at St. Mary's-St. Nicholas' in Littlemore, and other evangelical Anglicans were alarmed by the Romanizing tendencies of the Oxford Movement (Sacraments, sacramentals, and saints) and even more angered by some of Froude's comments: particularly his regrets that the Reformation--particularly the English Reformation--had ever happened. Golightly began the subscription campaign to build the memorial as an effort to counter and protest the Oxford Movement.

Golightly and Newman had a Huguenot background in common and they had been acquaintances for a long time, and Golightly was independently wealthy and therefore could take on poor Anglican parishes and do many good works. He was completely opposed to the ritualistic aspects of the Oxford Movement. It seems curious that Sir Gilbert Scott built the memorial in the Gothic style, since many could identify Gothic with the Catholic Middle Ages, but Scott did not equate Gothic with solely ecclesiastical architecture. He also designed the Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens across from the Royal Albert Hall. It also displays Scott's interest in the Gothic Revival style.

It's also interesting to note that in 1843 when the Martyrs Monument was dedicated, Newman was in Littlemore at the College and by September of that year had resigned from St. Mary's and was working on the Development of Christian Doctrine, writing himself into the Catholic Church.

British and Colonial Anti-Popery

Reflecting on Guy Fawkes day in colonial America, author and politician Daniel Hannon makes these surprising comments in The Catholic Herald--surprising in that a culture that feared Catholicism (Papistry/Popery) as inimical to freedom and liberty yet realized that religious freedom was necessary and that Catholics must be able to practice their faith:

Guy Fawkes Night used to be popular in North America, especially in Massachusetts. We have excised that fact from our collective memory, as we have more generally the bellicose anti-Catholicism that powered the American Revolution. We tell ourselves that the argument was about “No taxation without representation” and, for some, it was. But while constitutional questions obsessed the pamphleteering classes whose words we read today, the masses were more exercised by the perceived threat of superstition and idolatry that had sparked their ancestors’ hegira across the Atlantic in the first place. They were horrified by the government’s decision, in 1774, to recognise the traditional rights of the Catholic Church in Quebec.

To many Nonconformists, it seemed that George III was sending the popish serpent after them into Eden. As the First Continental Congress put it in its resolutions: “The dominion of Canada is to be so extended that by their numbers daily swelling with Catholic emigrants from Europe, and by their devotion to Administration, so friendly to their religion, they might become formidable to us, and on occasion, be fit instruments in the hands of power, to reduce the ancient free Protestant Colonies to the same state of slavery with themselves.”

Puritans and Presbyterians saw Anglicanism, with its stately communions and surplices and altar rails, as more than half allied to Rome. There had been a furious reaction in the 1760s when the Archbishop of Canterbury sought to bring the colonists into the fold. Thomas Secker, who had been born a Dissenter, and had the heavy-handed zeal of a convert, had tried to set up an Anglican missionary church in, of all places, Cambridge, Massachusetts, capital of New England Congregationalism. He sought to strike down the Massachusetts Act, which allowed for Puritan missionary work among the Indians and, most unpopular of all, to create American bishops.

The ministry backed off, but trust was never recovered. As the great historian of religion in America, William Warren Sweet, put it: “Religious strife between the Church of England and the Dissenters furnished the mountain of combustible material for the great conflagration, while the dispute over stamp, tea and other taxes acted merely as the matches of ignition.”

John Adams is remembered today as a humane and decent man – which he was. We forget that he earnestly wondered: “Can a free government possibly exist with the Roman Catholic religion?” Thomas Jefferson’s stirring defences of liberty move us even now. Yet he was convinced that “in every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.”

Americans had, as so often, distilled to greater potency a tendency that was present throughout the English-speaking world: an inchoate but strong conviction that Catholicism threatened freedom. Daniel Defoe talked of “a hundred thousand country fellows prepared to fight to the death against Popery, without knowing whether it be a man or a horse”. Anti-Catholicism was not principally doctrinal: few people were much interested in whether you believed in priestly celibacy or praying for the souls of the dead. Rather, it was geopolitical. . . .

And here’s the almost miraculous thing: they ended up creating a uniquely individualist culture that endured when religious practice waned. Adams and Jefferson led the first state in the world based on true religious freedom (as opposed to toleration). From a spasm of sectarianism came, paradoxically, pluralism. And, once it had come, it held on. “I never met an English Catholic who did not value, as much as any Protestant, the free institutions of his country,” wrote an astonished Tocqueville.


The title of Daniel Hannan's forthcoming book is Inventing Freedom: How the English-Speaking Peoples Made the Modern World--I wonder how he will interpret the so-called Glorious Revolution? Will he acknowledge James II and the campaign for religious toleration and freedom of conscience or will he repeat the old canards about William and Mary invading to defeat tyranny?

Friday, November 15, 2013

November 15, 1539: No, You Cannot Keep Your Monasteries


This image has been making the rounds on various facebook pages and blogs, comparing President Obama's promises about insurance while campaigning for the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) to Henry VIII and the Dissolution of the Monasteries. (You might recall that comparisons between Henry VIII and President Obama have come up before in the context of the HHS Mandates on contraceptive, abortafacient, and sterilization coverage.) I don't think that Henry VIII--whose only campaigns were military--ever made such a promise, but certainly on this day, November 15, in 1539, the Abbots of Glastonbury and Reading Abbeys found out that they could not keep their monasteries open. Blessed Richard Whiting, Blessed John Thorne, and Blessed Roger James were executed on Glastonbury Tor near their empty and soon to be desolated abbey, and Blessed Hugh (Cook) Faringdon, Blessed John Rugg and Blessed John Eynon were executed at Reading Abbey.

Glastonbury was one of the richest abbeys in the kingdom, and one of the best run and most observant of the Rule of St. Benedict: it was a ripe target for Henry VIII, Thomas Cromwell, and the Court of Augmentations. Cromwell had to trump up some charges against the elderly abbot. Both Abbot Whiting and Abbot Faringdon of Reading Abbey had gone along with Henry VIII's claims of supremacy over the Ecclesiae Anglicanae, but when they refused to surrender their monasteries, they surrended their lives.

More about the martyrs at Glastonbury here and about those at Reading . Perhaps their martyrdoms expiated their guilt for denying the authority of Christ's Vicar on earth: These six martyrs of the Dissolution of the Monasteries on November 15, 1539 (three each at Reading and Glastonbury) represent in some ways the remorse of the abbots and abbey leadership, who had accepted Henry VIII's oaths that proclaimed his authority over the Church of England as Supreme Head and Governor. Somehow they did not realize or imagine what he could and would do with that power and authority.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Speaking of Coincidences! Two Champions of Religious Toleration Born

Two allies in the effort to bring religious toleration and freedom of conscience to England were born on the same date, in 1633 and 1644, respectively: James, the Duke of York (later James II) and William Penn, the Quaker founder of Pennsylvania.

On October 14, 1633, King Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria welcomed the birth of their second son and third child, further securing the succession. James was titled the Duke of York. During the English Civil War he was captured by Fairfax but escaped to Holland.

He served in the armies of France and of Spain while on the Continent after the fall of the monarchy and the execution of his father. He secretly married Anne Hyde, the daughter of Lord Clarendon in 1660, but continued his womanizing ways. Anne bore him two daughters, Mary and Anne. When Charles II returned to England and the throne, James became the Lord High Admiral and declared himself a Catholic in 1672.

Anne Hyde, the Duchess of York had also become a Catholic and died in 1671--James then married Mary Beatrice of Modena, a Catholic Italian princess.
 
Of course, the crucial event of his life--at least as it influenced his reign--was the birth of his only son, James Francis Edward on June 10, 1688. In combination with his efforts to make religious toleration and freedom of conscience the law the in England, this birth of a Catholic prince led to the Glorious Revolution, as his daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange deposed him in 1688.

His reputation for courage in battle suffered after the invasion of William of Orange. He panicked and fled for France. Before the Battle of the Boyne he suffered nose bleeds and did not execute a successful battle plan. The Encyclopedia Britannica in 1910 offered this harsh assessment:

"The political ineptitude of James is clear; he often showed firmness when conciliation was needful, and weakness when resolution alone could have saved the day. Moreover, though he mismanaged almost every political problem with which he personally dealt, he was singularly tactless and impatient of advice. But in general political morality he was not below his age, and in his advocacy of toleration decidedly above it. He was more honest and sincere than Charles II, more genuinely patriotic in his foreign policy, and more consistent in his religious attitude. That his brother retained the throne while James lost it is an ironical demonstration that a more pitiless fate awaits the ruler whose faults are of the intellect, than one whose faults are of the heart."

The line, "But in general political morality he was not below his age, and in his advocacy of toleration decidedly above it" does give James the credit he deserves although it does not go far enough. James did not just advocate toleration or tolerance; his Declaration of Indulgence addresses freedom of conscience for his subjects.

Also, as I have alluded to Edward Corps' The Court in Exile before, he seems to have repented both for the moral harm he did in being unfaithful to both his wives and for the political errors he made in ruling while he lived in France at St. Germain-en-Laye. James became prayerful and devout, and more sincerely lived up to his religious beliefs.
 
James II's ally in the campaign for religious liberty and freedom of conscience was William Penn, born on November 14 in 1644. He was an early Quaker leader, the founder of Pennsylvania, and, in a way, the founder of Philadelphia, according to this wikipedia article. On October 21, 1692William and Mary removed him from the governorship of Pennsylvania, accusing him of being a Papist--all because he had worked with James II on religious freedom in England.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

St. Anthony of Padua in Scotland and England

As my husband and I attend Sunday Mass nearly every week at the Church of St. Anthony of Padua, this news about the relics of that great saint in Scotland and England caught my attention. As The Catholic Herald notes,

Catholics filled Westminster Cathedral on Saturday to venerate the relics of St Anthony of Padua.
The arrival of the saint’s relics, which comprised a small piece of petrified flesh and a layer of skin from the saint’s cheek, was part of a UK tour marking the 750th anniversary of the discovery of St Anthony’s incorrupt tongue.

Following an afternoon of veneration, where pilgrims queued for hours outside the cathedral in order to visit the relics, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster celebrated Mass in honour of the great saint.

During his homily, Archbishop Nichols said that St Anthony was a guide to those who have lost their way. He said: “On this most fundamental of all journeys we often get lost, taking a wrong path, ending up in a cul-de-sac, distracted by bright lights or misjudgement. St Anthony is well known for helping us to find lost things. And he can help us in this way too. He can help us to find again our true path whenever we have lost our way.”

[I'm not surprised that Archbishop Nichols has supported the veneration of these relics, as he urged Catholics throughout England to visit an exhibition at the British Museum in 2011 on relics and reliquaries:

All British Catholics should try to visit the new exhibition of relics and reliquaries at the British Museum in London, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster has said.

Treasures of Heaven: saints, relics and devotion in medieval Europe opened in the historic Round Reading Room at the museum today.

“I think this is a very, very unique and remarkable exhibition. There are objects here, for example the Mandylion, the face of Christ, which will never leave the Vatican again,” the archbishop said.

“I would just urge Catholics in England and Wales and from further afield to make the effort to come to the British Museum some time between now and October to take up this very unique opportunity. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime, and it’s well worth the journey.”]


The relics of St. Anthony continue their journey through Scotland and England, as The Catholic Herald continues:

Following their visit to Westminster Cathedral, the relics’ tour concluded at St Peter’s Italian Church in Clerkenwell. It is estimated that the relics have attracted 250,000 people across the UK during their tour.

Prior to their arrival at Westminster Cathedral, St Anthony’s relics had visited Belfast, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Newcastle, Manchester, Liverpool and Chester.

During their veneration at the Franciscan Church in Chester, the Church of St Francis, Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury reminded pilgrims that they were too called to be saints.

Addressing a packed church last Thursday, Bishop Davies said: “In Rome yesterday Pope Francis reminded us of the startling fact that the term ‘saint’ refers to you and to me, to everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus and are incorporated in Him and in the Church through Baptism. We are to be all saints!”

St. Anthony of Padua, pray for us!

Image: Guercino's St Anthony of Padua with the Infant Christ.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Bishop Stephen Gardiner, RIP



Stephen Gardiner, Mary I's Chancellor and the Bishop of Winchester, died on November 12, 1555. While he had supported Henry VIII's supremacy, he also opposed Edward VI's Calvinist Reformation, and then he assisted Mary I, and renounced  his views on the supremacy, since that was a role she rejected. The 1910 Encyclopedia Britannica summed up his life and character thusly:

Perhaps no celebrated character of that age has been the subject of so much ill-merited abuse at the hands of popular historians. That his virtue was not equal to every trial must be admitted, but that he was anything like the morose and narrowminded bigot he is commonly represented there is nothing whatever to show. He has been called ambitious, turbulent, crafty, abject, vindictive, bloodthirsty and a good many other things besides, not quite in keeping with each other; in addition to which it is roundly asserted by Bishop Burnet that he was despised alike by Henry and by Mary, both of whom made use of him as a tool. How such a mean and abject character submitted to remain five years in prison rather than change his principles is not very clearly explained; and as to his being despised, we have seen already that neither Henry nor Mary considered him by any means despicable. The truth is, there is not a single divine or statesman of that day whose course throughout was so thoroughly consistent. He was no friend to the Reformation, it is true, but he was at least a conscientious opponent. In doctrine he adhered to the old faith from first to last, while as a question of church policy, the only matter for consideration with him was whether the new laws and ordinances were constitutionally justifiable.

His merits as a theologian it is unnecessary to discuss; it is as a statesman and a lawyer that he stands conspicuous. But his learning even in divinity was far from commonplace. The part that he was allowed to take in the drawing up of doctrinal formularies in Henry VIII's time is not clear; but at a later date he was the author of various tracts in defence of the Real Presence against Cranmer, some of which, being written in prison, were published abroad under a feigned name. Controversial writings also passed between him and Bucer, with whom he had several interviews in Germany, when he was there as Henry VIII's ambassador.

He was a friend of learning in every form, and took great interest especially in promoting the study of Greek at Cambridge. He was, however, opposed to the new method of pronouncing the language introduced by Sir John Cheke, and wrote letters to him and Sir Thomas Smith upon the subject, in which, according to Ascham, his opponents showed themselves the better critics, but he the superior genius. In his own household he loved to take in young university men of promise; and many whom he thus encouraged became distinguished in after life as bishops, ambassadors and secretaries of state. His house, indeed, was spoken of by Leland as the seat of eloquence and the special abode of the muses.

He lies buried in his own cathedral at Winchester, where his effigy is still to be seen.
(Image credit for his chantry tomb: wikipedia commons.) His last words were: "I have erred with Peter, but have not wept with Peter."
 
The bishop has been in the news lately, as an important document of the English Reformation was recently sold at auction, but its export has been prevented, per this story from The Guardian:
 
A 16th-century manuscript that shines a light on a furious battle between two bishops of Winchester, over the then touchstone Reformation issue of clerical marriage, has had a temporary export bar placed on it. The culture minister, Ed Vaizey, announced the bar on Thursday in the hope that someone will find the money to keep the manuscript in the UK.
 
The paper's abridged title is A Traictise declarying and plainly prouying, that the pretensed marriage of Priestes … is no mariage (1554), and was sold by the Law Society at Sotheby's in June for £116,500, nearly six times the upper estimate.
 
The manuscript contains two diametrically opposed positions on clerical marriage. There is the anti-marriage stance of Stephen Gardiner and the virulently pro-marriage opinions of John Ponet, one of Thomas Cranmer's righthand men and a key figure in the English Reformation.
 
It was Ponet who replaced Gardiner as bishop of Winchester in 1551, although his tenure lasted only two years, before he was forced to flee England when the Catholic Mary Tudor came to the throne in 1553. Gardiner then resumed the job.
 
It's interesting to note that John Ponet survived Gardiner only by several months, as he died in August of 1556. Ponet argued for tyrannicide--specifically, the execution of Mary I--while in exile on the Continent in A Shorte Treatise of Politike Power.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Luytens and Curzon Remember "The Glorious Dead"


Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

Under the shadow of Thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure.

Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting Thou art God,
To endless years the same.

Thy Word commands our flesh to dust,
“Return, ye sons of men:”
All nations rose from earth at first,
And turn to earth again.

A thousand ages in Thy sight
Are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night
Before the rising sun.

The busy tribes of flesh and blood,
With all their lives and cares,
Are carried downwards by the flood,
And lost in following years.

Time, like an ever rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly, forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.

Like flowery fields the nations stand
Pleased with the morning light;
The flowers beneath the mower’s hand
Lie withering ere ‘tis night.

Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while troubles last,
And our eternal home.
 
Bruce Cole writes in The Wall Street Journal how England remembers "The Glorious Dead" of WWI: both with the Cenotaph designed by Edwin Lutyens and the ceremony prepared by Lord Curzon of Kedleston. First, the monument, with the note that it depicts no overt religious symbolism, and yet that many saw religious symbolism in the empty "tomb":
 
The Cenotaph struck a deep emotional chord. In a memo to the War Cabinet just four days after the Peace Day parade, Mond noted the "growing public" interest in a permanent Cenotaph and wrote that Lutyens was eager to design it "on the same line." The War Cabinet, which included Winston Churchill, approved the new Cenotaph. Few monuments of such distinction have been conceived in such haste and built with such speed.

Other than replicating the wood and plaster with Portland limestone there was almost no change in the design, except for one important refinement: entasis, a principle used by the ancient Greeks, in which vertical lines are given a slightly convex curve as they taper upward to fool the eye, which would otherwise see them as out of true alignment. The result was a minimal but sophisticated arrangement of shapes, moldings and setbacks derived from classical prototypes. Bereft of any overt religious, national or didactic symbolism, its power arose solely from its stark, somber, unadorned form.

The Cenotaph's unveiling on Nov. 11, 1920, was heightened by another solemn commemoration: the burial of the Unknown Warrior, whose body was returned from France for entombment in Westminster Abbey to memorialize the thousands still missing.

Draped with two large Union Jacks, the Cenotaph was unveiled by George V as the gun carriage bearing the Unknown Warrior stopped at the monument on its way to the Abbey. Thus, the memorial function of the Cenotaph, crowned by an empty sarcophagus, was heightened by the presence of an unknown soldier. Relatives of the missing were comforted because, as they said, it was possible to believe that he might be their husband, son, father or brother. For many, the vacant tomb of Lutyens's Cenotaph would recall Christ's resurrection and its embodiment of salvation for their fallen

Describing the ceremony, the Times of London reported that Big Ben "boomed out, louder, it seemed, than ever one hears it even in the stillness of dawn." The king "released the flags...they fell away, and it stood, clean and wonderful in its naked beauty. Big Ben ceased; and the very pulse of Time stood still. In silence, broken only by a near-by sob, the great multitude bowed its head."
 
And then Cole describes the ceremony for the dedication of the Cenotaph, which has become the ceremony for each Remembrance Day:
 
The dedication ceremony designed for the new Cenotaph gave increased meaning to the monument. The event was planned by a member of the War Cabinet, Lord Curzon of Kedleston, an epitome of English aristocracy and privilege. As Viceroy of India, he was the impresario of the great Delhi Durbar of 1903, a spectacular two-week pageant of Imperial pageantry featuring a cast of thousands.

Curzon, who had organized the events around the unveiling of the temporary Cenotaph, was now asked to design the ceremony for the dedication of its successor. But if anyone thought he would create a majestic procession, they were wrong.

Instead, he produced something very different, a service of the utmost modesty and sobriety that would complement Lutyens's austere monument. The ceremony would be minimal, poignant and brief: the hymn "O God Our Help in Ages Past," the doleful "Last Post," and two minutes of silence, not of prayer but in memory of the fallen. Some nine decades later, Curzon's touching ceremony is still celebrated at the Cenotaph on Britain's annual Remembrance Day.

Curzon insisted that the ceremony should be for veterans and war widows. Similarly, places for the service in the Abbey, he declared, were to be assigned not to "society ladies or the wives of dignitaries, but to the selected widows and mothers of those who had fallen, especially in the humbler ranks."

This aligned with the widespread democratic appeal of the Cenotaph, which neither proclaims victory nor sentimentalizes the fallen, but instead brilliantly evokes the loss of millions.
 
This explanation makes me think of one advantage of having a national Church: the inclusion of a beautiful Christian hymn, Isaac Watts "O God Our Help in Ages Past", based on Psalm 90, as part of a national ceremony. England may have grown more secular since that "war to end all wars" but the hymn is still part of the ceremony.
 
Image source: wikipedia commons.