Sunday, October 25, 2015

Forty-five Years Ago Today: The 40 Martyrs of England and Wales

From Blessed Pope Paul VI's homily on Sunday, October 25, 1970 (the English portions):

We extend Our greeting first of all to Our venerable brother Cardinal John Carmel Heenan, Archbishop of Westminster, who is present here today. Together with him We greet Our brother bishops of England and Wales and of all the other countries, those who have come here for this great ceremony. We extend Our greeting also to the English priests, religious, students and faithful. We are filled with joy and happiness to have them near us today; for us they represent all English Catholics scattered throughout the world. Thanks to them we are celebrating Christ’s glory made manifest in the holy Martyrs, whom We have just canonized, with such keen and brotherly feelings that We are able to experience in a very special spiritual way the mystery of the oneness and love of the Church. We offer you our greetings, brothers, sons and daughters; We thank you and We bless you.

While We are particularly pleased to note the presence of the official representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Reverend Doctor Harry Smythe, We also extend Our respectful and affectionate greeting to all the members of the Anglican Church who have likewise come to take part in this ceremony. We indeed feel very close to them. We would like them to read in Our heart the humility, the gratitude and the hope with which We welcome them. We wish also to greet the authorities and those personages who have come here to represent Great Britain, and together with them all the other representatives of other countries and other religions. With all Our heart We welcome them, as we celebrate the freedom and the fortitude of men who had, at the same time, spiritual faith and loyal respect for the sovereignty of civil society. . . .

May the blood of these Martyrs be able to heal the great wound inflicted upon God’s Church by reason of the separation of the Anglican Church from the Catholic Church. Is it not one--these Martyrs say to us--the Church founded by Christ? Is not this their witness? Their devotion to their nation gives us the assurance that on the day when--God willing--the unity of the faith and of Christian life is restored, no offence will be inflicted on the honour and sovereignty of a great country such as England. There will be no seeking to lessen the legitimate prestige and the worthy patrimony of piety and usage proper to the Anglican Church when the Roman Catholic Church--this humble “Servant of the Servants of God”-- is able to embrace her ever beloved Sister in the one authentic communion of the family of Christ: a communion of origin and of faith, a communion of priesthood and of rule, a communion of the Saints in the freedom and love of the Spirit of Jesus.

Perhaps We shall have to go on, waiting and watching in prayer, in order to deserve that blessed day. But already We are strengthened in this hope by the heavenly friendship of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales who are canonized today. Amen.

Although Pope Paul's hopes for reunion have not been fulfilled--and because of Anglican decisions to ordain women priests and bishops will never be fulfilled--think of the progress of the past 45 years: the work of ARCIC to find the common ground of some doctrines; Pope St. John Paul II's tremendous pastoral visit in 1982, celebrating the of Seven Sacraments in England, Scotland, and Wales; Pope Benedict XVI's official visit in 2010; the establishment and ongoing efforts of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham under the spiritual patronage of Blessed John Henry Newman, translating that "legitimate prestige and the worthy patrimony of piety and usage proper to the Anglican Church" that Blessed Pope Paul spoke of in 1970!

The 40 Martyrs of England and Wales canonized 45 years ago today are: Alban Roe, Alexander Bryant, Ambrose Barlow, Anne Line, Augustine Webster, Cuthbert Mayne , David Lewis, Edmund Arrowsmith, Edmund Campion, Edmund Gennings, Henry Morse, Henry Walpole , John Almond, John Boste, John Houghton, John Jones, John Kemble, John Lloyd, John Payne, John Plessington, John Rigby, John Roberts, John Stone, John Southworth, John Wall, Luke Kirby, Margaret Clitherow, Margaret Ward, Nicholas Owen, Philip Evans, Philip Howard, Polydore Plasden, Ralph Sherwin, Richard Gwyn, Richard Reynolds, Robert Lawrence, Robert Southwell, Swithun Wells, and Thomas Garnet.

All the holy martyrs of England and Wales, canonized and blessed, pray for us!

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