When I was well on the way to being received into the Church, an unexpected form of historical encouragement appeared. Somehow I became aware of Eamon Duffy’s book, The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400-1580. (Note: This book can be purchased through the CHNetwork by calling 740-450-1175 or online at www.chresources.com. Only a limited quantity is available.) Duffy’s thesis, backed by considerable historical evidence, was that
[L]ate medieval Catholicism [in England] exerted an enormously strong, diverse, and vigorous hold over the imagination and the loyalty of the people up to the very moment of Reformation. Traditional religion had about it no particular marks of exhaustion or decay, and indeed in a whole host of ways, from the multiplication of vernacular religious books to adaptations within the national and regional cult of the saints, was showing itself well able to meet needs and new conditions. (p. 4)This came as quite a surprise, because over time I had acquired just the opposite impression: that the English people by the time of the Protestant Reformation were clamoring to be rid of Catholicism. Now, for the first time, it occurred to me that many, if not most, of my English ancestors of the early Reformation period may not have been “intentional Protestants,” that is, people who affirmatively split from existing versions of Christianity. Instead, they were more likely to have had Protestantism forced on them from the top down. Catholicism in England was destroyed, not abandoned.
Supremacy and Survival is more accessible and more available for a premium, I suppose, than The Stripping of the Altars. When Matt Swaim of The Son Rise Morning Show appeared on The Journey Home, the CHN interview program on EWTN, he said I'd be perfect for the show--except that I'm neither a convert nor a revert. Marcus Grodi usually interviews one or the other; Matt suggested I could lapse ever so briefly to qualify, but that's not happening.