Saturday, February 28, 2015

Now that's ICONIC!


I have seen this icon of the 21 Coptic martyrs on many websites, so I assumed the writer of it (that's the term for the artist) wanted it seen widely. This interview on NRO confirms my assumption

KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: What was your purpose and intention when you painted an icon of the Egyptian Copts martyred last week by the Islamic State? 

TONY REZK: My ultimate purpose was to honor them and the sacrifice that they made. Tertullian, a Christian apologist from the third century, before he joined a non-Orthodox Christian sect, said, “The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church.” We believe that their martyrdom will help the Church grow stronger. My other purpose was to take out my frustrations on something, as I find that the process of making any kind of art is a relaxing experience.   

LOPEZ: You offer the icon for anyone’s use. Would you or the Coptic Church ever make it available for purchase? Perhaps to raise funds for Copts in Egypt or other persecuted Christians? 

REZK: It is actually in the hands of the Coptic Church in Egypt now. His Grace Bishop Macarius has the high-resolution picture and was given permission to do what he wanted with it. His Grace is the bishop of the El Minya province in Upper Egypt where most of the martyrs were from. I’m still trying to figure out a way to get it out there for all to use.

At the same time I have seen this beautiful icon, representing the martyrs as icons of Jesus, I have read the term "iconic" applied to everything from Wellington boots to Frank Sinatra. Iconic has been called one of the most overused words in many publications, but people just keep on (over)using it. This website discusses the problem and offers some solutions:

Originally, iconic meant “characteristic of an icon” — an image or representation, often of a saint or other sacred personage. The adjective, perhaps aided by marketers and publicists, evolved into an all-purpose term for making people or things seem more important or desirable.

These days, iconic is used to describe just about anything, even commonplace objects. (Prell is an “iconic shampoo,” according to news reports earlier this year.) As the examples above demonstrate, the word has become a tool for exaggeration and is now a cliche. In fact, iconic is often nominated for annual lists of “words that should be banned.”

If something truly merits an accolade, consider such synonyms as celebrated, distinctive, famous, inimitable, legendary, original, peerless, and singular.

These true icons of Jesus have already been honored as saints and martyrs in the Coptic Church and their feast day is February 15. Coptic Martyrs, pray for us! As windows to Jesus, show us the way this Lent!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Filcock, and Barkworth, and Line: Three Martyrs at Tyburn

St. Anne Line was hung and then Blessed Mark Barkworth, OSB and Blessed Roger Filcock were hung, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn on February 27, 1601.

Anne Heigham Line was a convert to Catholicism; she and her brother William Heigham were disinherited and disowned by their Calvinist father. In 1586 she married Roger Line, another disinherited convert. Not long after Anne and Roger married, he and William were arrested for attending Mass and were exiled from England. Roger lived in Flanders and died in 1594.

Father John Gerard SJ, author of the famous book Autobiography of an Elizabethan Priest, asked Anne to manage two different safe houses for Jesuits, even though she was ill, but because she was destitute, otherwise surviving on teaching and sewing.

She was arrested on the Feast of the Presentation, February 2, 1601, when Father Francis Page was celebrating Mass; he escaped with her help. She was tried on February 26, carried to court in a chair, where she admitted joyfully that she had helped Father Page escape and only regretted that she had not been able to help even more priests escape!

She was hung at Tyburn in London on February 27 and repeated her statement from court before her execution: "I am sentenced to die for harboring a Catholic priest, and so far I am from repenting for having so done, that I wish, with all my soul, that where I have entertained one, I could have entertained a thousand." Two priests, Father Roger Filcock and Father Mark Barkworth, paid tribute to her before their own executions, drawn, hung, and quartered. Father Filcock kissed her dead hand and the hem of her dress as she still hung from the gibbet and proclaimed, “You have gotten the start of us, sister, but we will follow you as quickly as we may.”

St. Anne Line was among the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970. She, St. Margaret Clitherow and St. Margaret Ward share a separate Feast on August 30 (the date of St. Margaret Ward's martyrdom in 1588) in the dioceses of England.

Blessed Mark Barkworth OSB was born about 1572 at Searby in Lincolnshire. He studied for a time at Oxford, though no record remains of his stay there. He was received into the Catholic Church at Douai in 1593, by Father George, a Flemish Jesuit and entered the College there with a view to the priesthood. He matriculated at Douai University on 5 October 1594.

On account of an outbreak of the plague, in 1596 Barkworth was sent to Rome and thence to Valladolid in Spain, where he entered the English College on 28 December 1596. On his way to Spain he is said to have had a vision of St Benedict, who told him he would die a martyr, in the Benedictine habit. While at Valladolid he make firmer contact with to the Benedictine Order. The "Catholic Encyclopedia" notes that there are accounts that his interest in the Benedictines resulted in suffering at the hands of the College superiors, but the Encyclopedia expresses scepticism, suggesting anti-Jesuit bias.

Barkworth was ordained priest at the English College some time before July 1599, when he set out for the English Mission together with Father Thomas Garnet. On his way he stayed at the Benedictine Monastery of Hyrache in Navarre, where his wish to join the order was granted by his being made an Oblate with the privilege of making profession at the hour of death.

After having escaped from the hands of the Huguenots of La Rochelle, he was arrested on reaching England and thrown into Newgate, where he was imprisoned for six months, and was then transferred to Bridewell. There he wrote an appeal to Robert Cecil, signed "George Barkworth". At his examinations he was reported to behave with fearlessness and frank gaiety. Having been condemned with a formal jury verdict, he was thrown into "Limbo", the horrible underground dungeon at Newgate, where he is said to have remained "very cheerful" till his death.

Barkworth sang, on the way to Tyburn, the Paschal Anthem: "Hæc dies quam, fecit Dominus exultemus et lætemur in ea", and Father Filcock joined him in the chant:

Hæc dies quam fecit Dominus; [This is the day which the Lord has made:]
exsultemus, et lætemur in ea. [let us be glad and rejoice in it.]


At Tyburn he told the people: "I am come here to die, being a Catholic, a priest, and a religious man, belonging to the Order of St Benedict; it was by this same order that England was converted."

He was said to be "a man of stature tall and well proportioned showing strength, the hair of his head brown, his beard yellow, somewhat heavy eyed". He was of a cheerful disposition. He suffered in the Benedictine habit, under which he wore a hair-shirt. It was noticed that his knees were, like St. James', hardened by constant kneeling, and an apprentice in the crowd picking up his legs, after the quartering, called out: "Which of you Gospellers can show such a knee?" Contrary to usual practice, the quarters of the priests were not exposed but buried near the scaffold. They were later retrieved by Catholics. 

Barkworth was beatified by Pope Pius XI on 15 December 1929.

Blessed Roger Filcock (1570-1601) was arrested in England while he was fulfilling a probationary period prior to entering the Jesuits. He had studied at the English College in Rheims, France and then in Valladolid, Spain, but when he asked to join the Society he was encouraged to apply again after ministering for awhile in England.

His journey into England was difficult enough. The ship he was traveling on from Bilbao, Spain to Calais, France, was becalmed just outside the port and fell pray to a Dutch ship blockading the harbor. Filcock was captured, but managed to escape and land surreptitiously on the shore in Kent in 1598. Soon after he began his ministry, he contacted Father Henry Garnet, the Jesuit superior, asking to become a Jesuit. He was accepted into the Society in 1600, but then was betrayed by someone he had studied with in Spain. He was arrested and committed to Newgate Prison in London. His trial did not last long, despite the fact that there was no evidence against him and that the names in the indictment were not names he had used. Together with Father Mark Barkworth, a Benedictine, he was tied to a hurdle and dragged through the streets to Tyburn. Barkworth was first to be hung, disembowelled and quartered. Filcock had to watch his companion suffer, knowing that he would immediately follow. 


Pope John Paul II beatified him, on the 22nd of November 1987, one among the 85 Martyrs of England and Wales.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

William of Ockham and Henry VIII

The influence of William Tyndale's The Obedience of a Christian Man on Henry VIII's decision to claim England was an Empire and he ruled as supreme in materials spiritual and secular is well known, but an article The Guardian highlights another book Henry and his supporters used to make that claim, by William of Ockham or Occam:

A book which helped changed the course of English history, part of the evidence Henry VIII and his lawyers gathered in the 1530s to help win an annulment from Catherine of Aragon and ultimately to break with Rome, has turned up on the shelves of the magnificent library at Lanhydrock, a National Trust mansion in Cornwall.

The book, a summary of the theories of the medieval philosopher and theologian William of Ockham, has been newly identified by a US scholar and expert on the history of Henry’s library. The book was damaged but escaped destruction in a disastrous fire at the house in 1881, and crucially the fly-leaf survived. It still carries the number 282, written in black ink in the top right-hand corner, which Prof James Carley identified as corresponding with an inventory taken in 1542 of the most important of Henry’s books, five years before the king’s death.


William of Ockham's works bolstered Henry's view that the monarch in his own country, not the Pope in Rome, should have control of ecclesiastical matters. Ockham was a Franciscan friar looking to the protection of The Holy Roman Emperor, Louis IV of Bavaria against Pope John XXII, who wanted to change the rule of St. Francis:

Henry’s agents were gathering evidence that could support the move, which may be how the collection of the views of the 14th century priest and philosopher, published in 1495, came to the royal library. Ockham wrote in Latin of the limits of the power of the pope, and the independence of the authority of monarchs. Several pages in the book have key passages marked by secretaries for Henry’s attention, including one crucial section with a heading which translates as: “When it is permitted to withdraw from obedience to the pope”.

In 1532 Henry would begin exactly that process of withdrawal from Rome. In 1533, despite its refusal to annul his first marriage, he married the almost certainly pregnant Anne Boleyn. Pope Clement VII declared that Catherine was still the rightful queen of England, and Henry responded with the Act of Supremacy, establishing himself as the head of the Church of England. The breach with Rome was complete.


I wonder if William of Ockham would have been pleased with this result, since it soon meant the eradication of the Franciscan order, and every other religious order, in England. 

Compromise Failed: An "Appellant" Martyr

Blessed Robert Drury was born in Buckinghamshire in about 1567. He studied at the English College, Rheims, France in 1588, and the English College, Valladolid, Spain in 1590. Ordained at Valladolid in 1593. Returned to England in 1593 to minister to covert Catholics around London, England. He was one of the signers of the loyal address of 31 January 1603 which acknowledged the queen as lawful sovereign on earth, but maintained their loyalty in religious matters to the Pope. When James I came to the throne, the king required them to sign a new oath which acknowledged his authority over spiritual matters. Robert refused, and was arrested in 1606 for the crime of being a priest. He was offered his freedom if he would sign the oath; he declined. Martyred by being hanged, drawn, and quartered on 26 February 1607 at Tyburn, London England. He is one of the Eighty-five Martyrs of England and Wales beatified by Blessed Pope John Paul II in 1987.

Blessed Robert Drury attempted to appease Queen Elizabeth and her government as one of the Appellants. Two of the 13 who signed the Protestation of Allegiance would be executed during the reign of James I of England: today's martyr and Blessed Roger Cadwallador (in 1610 on August 27). The Appellants opposed the Jesuit methods of leading the Catholic mission to England and attempted to compromise, pleading a divided but honest loyalty--secular loyalty to Elizabeth's authority as the Queen of England; religious loyalty to Papal authority as the successor to St. Peter. The Appellants also opposed the authority and methods of the Archpriest George Blackwell, whom they thought favored the Jesuit approach. The Jesuit approach, articulated by Father Robert Parsons, was uncompromising: total loyalty to the Roman Pontiff and absolute refusal to adopt public acceptance of the Church of England while remaining privately opposed. The Jesuits would not tolerate Church Papists who attended Anglican services to avoid the fines and imprisonments, for example. The Elizabethan regime took advantage of these disagreements to encourage division among Catholics in England.

Even if Elizabeth I had accepted their appeal for relief to her Catholic subjects, the succession of James VI of Scotland ended this attempt--because he would not compromise, either. He demanded that the Appellants accept his authority over both religious and secular matters with the Oath of Allegiance. Members of the Appellant party were divided over whether they could take James I's new oath. Drury and Cadwallador were arrested and refused to take the oath.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia entry on Blessed (then Venerable) Robert Drury:

The results of the address were disappointing; Elizabeth died within three months of its signature, and James I soon proved that he would not be satisfied with any purely civil allegiance. He thirsted for spiritual authority, and, with the assistance of an apostate Jesuit, a new oath of allegiance was drawn up, which in its subtlety was designed to trouble the conscience of Catholics and divide them on the lawfulness of taking it. It was imposed 5 July, 1606, and about this time Drury was arrested. He was condemned for his priesthood, but was offered his life if he would take the new oath. A letter from Father Persons, S.J., against its lawfulness was found on him. The oath declared that the "damnable doctrine" of the deposing power was "impious and heretical", and it was condemned by Pope Paul V, 22 September, 1606, "as containing many things contrary to the Faith and Salvation". This brief, however, was suppressed by the archpriest, and Drury probably did not know of it. But he felt that his conscience would not permit him to take the oath, and he died a martyr at Tyburn, 26 February, 1606-7. A curious contemporary account of his martyrdom, entitled "A true Report of the Arraignment . . . of a Popish Priest named Robert Drewrie" (London, 1607), which has been reprinted in the "Harleian Miscellany", calls him a Benedictine, and says he wore his monastic habitat the execution. But this "habit" as described proves to be the cassock and cap work by the secular clergy. The writer adds, "There were certain papers shown at Tyburn which had been found about him, of a very dangerous and traitorous nature, and among them also was his Benedictine faculty under seal, expressing what power and authority he had from the pope to make men, women, and children here of his order; what indulgence and pardons he could grant them", etc. He may have been a confrater or oblate of the order.

The University of North Carolina Press offers Catholic Loyalism in Elizabethan England by Arnold Pritchard, pictured above in a print-on-demand paperback edition. Pritchard covers the Archpriest Controversy and the divisions between Catholics at the end of Elizabeth I's reign--and the beginning of James I's. (The original hardcover edition from 1979 is still pretty easily available.)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Sequence of Music for Lent, St. Joseph, and the Annunciation


I haven't figured out what music on this CD is for St. Joseph, but listening to Miserere on the vigil of the First Sunday of Lent, I appreciated the mixture of plainhant, Renaissance polyphony, and contemporary liturgical music composed at and performed in Westminster Cathedral. Unlike Harry Christopher's The Sixteen, the Westminster Choir has boys singing the soprano parts, and realizing that this choir sings this music in the context of the Mass and not in a concert hall added to the devotional impact for me. Then when we went to Mass on Sunday the choir sang an English translation of the first chant on the CD, "Attende Domine" and everything just fit. The liner notes describe the chant melody thus:

Plainsong exists to solemnify the text that it adorns. Attende, Domine has its origins in the Mozarabic Rite of the tenth century and is one of the more emotionally complex melodies in the literature. It is classified by Solesmes dogma as a Lydian tune, although it is authentically Ionian. On the one hand the chant drives the physical momentum of litaneic procession, while on the other it colours the plangency of Lenten supplication. The aural hook of this hymn of exhortation comprises two consecutively occurring perfect fourths (heard at the beginning of the second phrase of the refrain). This descending medieval solecism occurs to great effect no fewer than eleven times, and since the nineteenth century this chant has beguiled the willing ears of Anglicans as well as those of Roman Catholics, as witnessed by the melody’s prominent inclusion in the English Hymnal of 1906 under the title ‘A Lent Prose’.

It "beguiled [my] willing ears" too!

A Village and The Man in the Wing Chair

From the U.S. publisher Simon & Schuster:

In this #1 international bestseller, a young woman leaves everything behind to work as a librarian in a remote French village, where she finds her outlook on life and love challenged in every way.

Prudencia Prim is a young woman of intelligence and achievement, with a deep knowledge of literature and several letters after her name. But when she accepts the post of private librarian in the village of San Ireneo de Arnois, she is unprepared for what she encounters there. Her employer, a book-loving intellectual, is dashing yet contrarian, always ready with a critique of her cherished Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott. The neighbors, too, are capable of charm and eccentricity in equal measure, determined as they are to preserve their singular little community from the modern world outside.

Prudencia hoped for friendship in San Ireneo but she didn't suspect that she might find love—nor that the course of her new life would run quite so rocky or would offer challenge and heartache as well as joy, discovery, and fireside debate. Set against a backdrop of steaming cups of tea, freshly baked cakes, and lovely company,
The Awakening of Miss Prim is a distinctive and delightfully entertaining tale of literature, philosophy, and the search for happiness.

It was cold and snowy on the First Sunday of Lent in Wichita, Kansas. We went to Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and then stopped for lunch. Once back in the house we were in for the day and I read The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera. I read it right through the WSU basketball game, two loads of laundry, and letting the dogs out (and in). At least two friends had recommended the book, one lent us his copy, and my husband had already read it.

Although the novel has many delights for any reader, I think that a reader who accepts the worldview of Benedictine monasticism, Thomist philosophy, and Chestertonian paradoxes will fit right in the village of San Ireneo de Arnois and appreciate the awakening that Miss Prudencia Prim needs. While it seems like a love story, The Awakening of Miss Prim is really a conversion story (which would really be the same thing, right?) All of the people living and working in the village of San Ireneo de Arnois have converted, turned away from the modern world of acquisition and pressure to live in a community where leisure and education for children is the center of their activity. Miss Prim discovers that everyone plans their days and their work around the children and their well-being. Each shop is open only about six hours a day during the week and the proprietors, many of them women, manage their businesses to supply the needs of others the village, which is built next door to the Benedictine monastery.

In this interview, the author describes the inspiration for the village:

Many people ask me about the whereabouts of San Ireneo. The village doesn’t exist, it’s an imaginary place, but it’s inspired by the European tradition. Europe was built on small communities near abbeys like the one in the book, with an economy based on craftsmanship, solid families, ancient traditions and a very ordered life, in which each thing was done in its own time. That was the model I drew inspiration from to write the book. And that’s how San Ireneo was born, a place where people’s lives have a human scale and where tradition and culture are understood as treasures. In a world that’s so fast and so noisy, I think that’s what makes many readers ask me whether such a place exists, and wonder where it is.

Catholicism and tradition are in the background throughout the story, but Fenollera does not catechize the reader. Miss Prim receives the catechesis slowly and organically, but the surprise of the novel is that she has to leave the village to understand what she's learn and how to live with it--and at the end she's ready to return and . . . --the author leaves it to us to imagine what Miss Prim does when she goes back to San Ireneo de Arnois to teach school.

I do think she should have named "the Man in the Wing Chair" but then other authors have played games with a main character's identity--Daphne Du Maurier never tells us the second Mrs. DeWinter's first name in Rebecca, and Rose Macaulay famously teases the reader all through The Towers of Trebizond whether the protagonist/narrator is a woman or a man. Perhaps that's not such a flaw, after all.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Henry VI's Great Chapel at King's College, Cambridge

The Choir of the Chapel of King's College Cambridge is celebrating the "completion of the stone fabric of the chapel" in 2015. You may listen to a "A SEQUENCE OF WORDS AND MUSIC" from the chapel, which included the reading of Henry VI's will re: his college and chapel:

In the name of the blessed Trinity, the Father, the Sonne, and the Holy Ghost, oure Lady St Marie mother of Christ, and all the holy companie of heaven: I, Henry by the grace of God King of England, and of France, and lorde of Ireland, after the conquest of England the Sixt, for divers great and notable causes moving me at the making of theise presents, have do my will and mine intent to be written in manner that followeth: 

As touching the dimensions of the church of my said college of our Lady and St. Nicholas at Cambrige, I have devised and apointed that the same church shall containe 288 feete of assise in length, without any yles, and all of the wideness of 40 feete, and the length of the same church from the west end to the altare at the quier doore, shall containe 120 feete, and from the provosts stall unto the greece called Gradus Chori 90 feete, for 36 stalles on either side of the same quire, answering to 70 fellowes and ten priests conducts, which must be de prima forma. And from the said stalles unto the est end of the said church 72 feete of assize: also a reredost bearing the roodelofte departing the quier and the body of the church, containing in length 40 feete, and in breadth 14 feete; the walles of the same church to be in height 90 feete, imbattelled, vawted, and chare roffed, sufficiently butteraced, and every butterace finished with finials; and in the east end of the said church shall be a windowe of nine dayes, and betwixt every butterace a windowe of five dayes, and betwixt every of the same butteraces in the body of the church, on both sides of the same church, a closet with an altare therein, containing in length 20 feete, and in breadth 10 feete, vawted and finished undre the soyle of the yle windows. 

And I will that both my said colleges be edified of the most substantiall and best abiding stuffe of stone, lead, glasse, and yron, that may best be had and provided thereto: and that the church of St. John (Zachary), which must be taken to the enlarging of my said college, be well and sufficiently made againe in the grounde in which the provost and schollars abovesayd now be lodged, or nigh by where it may be thought most convenient, to the intent that Divine service shall now be done therein worshipfully to the honour of God, our Blessed Lady Christes mother, St. John Baptist, and all saints. 

The next reading is about the seventeenth century, thus skipping the Wars of the Roses, the beginning of the Tudor dynasty, the English Reformation and all the changes of religion that followed. There are also poems, anthems, and hymns. The program may be found here and the website for the continuing celebration of the anniversary here. A new book celebrates "Art, Music and Religion in Cambridge" but does not celebrate the Oxford comma!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Wichita Area Chesterton Group Reading "The Well and the Shallows"

We held our second meeting of 2015 at Eighth Day Books last Friday and continued our reading of G.K. Chesterton's The Well and the Shallows. The American Chesterton Society publishes this description of this collection of essays and articles:

A few years after his conversion, G.K. Chesterton began contributing articles to Catholic magazines on both sides of the Atlantic. The bulk of these of essays were reprinted in The Thing: Why I am a Catholic (1929) and this book, The Well and the Shallows (1935), which could almost be called The Thing: Part II or, as he suggests, Why I Would Have Become a Catholic if I Had Not Already Done So.

As always, he takes on all subjects, writing about anything and everything, but not only are these essays more specifically Catholic than his other works, there is clearly a sense of foreboding. He warns in the introduction that there are not as many jokes as his readers are used to. There is an urgent and somber sense that there are very dark and desperate days ahead, and that among other dangerous developments, the worst war that the world has ever seen is just over the horizon. He saw before anyone else that something terrible was about to happen to the Jews, and he proclaimed that he would die defending the last Jew in Europe. In spite of that, there are still fools who accuse him of hating the Jews.

Chesterton’s prophecies are chilling. But what is perhaps more shocking than his prophecies falling on deaf ears at the time, is that everything he said is still true – and still ignored. We have forgotten completely how bad the world got and how it got that way. Chesterton lays it all out in this book. What do these trends have in common: Birth control, State-enforced education, scientific officialism, academic deconstruction, and Anti-Catholicism? They are standard elements of the culture in present day America. But they were also the exact same trends seen in the rise of Nazi Germany.


The essay concludes with some comments about suffering and self-denial! Perfect for Lent:

There are two particular groups who find this book especially challenging to their ideas: Protestants and Catholics.

Protestantism is a large category and the only common factor it has is anti-Catholicism. Chesterton sympathizes with new religious movements. He knows that these people are seeking God. He remembers Christ’s dictum that he who seeks finds. But he also notes that most Protestants movements have lost their original reasons for existing. They simply take on some new form of anti-Catholicism to justify their position of remaining outside of the Church. Ultimately, Chesterton argues, the Catholic Church is right and everything thing else is wrong, or perhaps more accurately, the Church is complete and everything else is incomplete. The Church defends not only the eternal truths but the all the good things that are under attack in the modern world: the family, the poor, self-government, self-control. Protestants who at first feel that their toes are getting stepped on soon realize that Chesterton’s complete view of things has their own best interests in mind. The Church is the Well. It is deep and truth is at the bottom of it. Everything else is the Shallows.


It is when Chesterton starts talking about Catholic social teaching that many Catholics start suddenly going deaf or looking for something else to read. Chesterton appeals to the Church’s long history of serving the poor and bringing about social justice. He believes that Church teachings would be best fulfilled in the implementation of widespread property ownership, self-sufficiency, and family-centered trades. For those who continue to be puzzled by Distributism, perhaps the best one-chapter explanation of it anywhere can be found in the essay entitled: “Reflections on a Rotten Apple.”

There are people who enjoy Chesterton’s abstract thinking, but get prickly when he goes concrete. It is fine to argue that the Catholic Church is right, and modernism is wrong, but it gets downright uncomfortable when Chesterton starts talking about some of the real practical effects of being Catholic. It may mean making some sacrifices. Giving something up. Suffering, even. But we forget how deep is the well. Not only do we draw truth from it, we also draw strength and refreshment and eternal satisfaction.


Dale Ahlquist, President of the American Chesterton Society, will talk about Distributism and Catholic teaching about social justice at the Catholic Culture Conference scheduled at the Spiritual Life Center here in Wichita on April 17 and 18. More info here.

We are reading The Well and the Shallows in the the Collected Works edition from Ignatius Press, but Eighth Day Books also has the separate volume, pictured above, available.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Report on Cardinal Newman Day Lecture


Since I promoted my presentation at Newman University here on my blog, I thought I should report on it to you. Overall, I was happy with the results (my little jokes worked). The turnout was small, but it was Ash Wednesday evening after all. Good question and answer after. My husband took the picture above before everyone/anyone arrived. We worked on positioning the lapel microphone so I did not have to use the podium mic, which required me speaking directly into it--or my voice dropped. It's so important to get those little things right to reduce distractions. I will submit, after some edits, "Blessed John Henry Newman and Lent: Affliction and Love" for publication in Archaeopteryx, The Newman Journal of Ideas.

My next projects include a presentation on St. Thomas More at the Spiritual Life Center here in Wichita on Saturday, May 2 during the run of Wolf Hall on PBS, an article on the same subject for a major Catholic publication and a couple of radio interviews. I'll keep you updated. I also have some reviews/articles to work on for The Christian Review. Thanks again for your interest and support.

Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for us!

February 21 in London--at Tyburn in 1595 and in The City in 1801

What a remarkable doctrine of the Church is the Communion of Saints! Two great holy men were born this day--one to eternal life, the other to life on earth: St. Robert Southwell was executed on February 21, 1595 and Blessed John Henry Newman was born on February 21, 1801.

St. Robert Southwell was 33 years old when he was executed at Tyburn on February 21, 1595. When he cited his age during his trial, his torturer Richard Topcliffe mocked him for claiming equality with Jesus Christ. Southwell answered that he was but a worm.

It is hard to be temperate when writing about his arrest, torture and execution--it is obviously a horrendous blot against the Elizabethan "regime". He was betrayed by a woman that Elizabeth's pursuivant Richard Topcliffe had raped and blackmailed--he promised to find her a husband since she was pregnant with his child if she would turn Southwell in; he was tortured--illegally and excruciatingly--numerous times, starting with a visit to Topcliffe's personal torture chamber, while Elizabeth's officials looked on; then he was held in fetid conditions until his father visited him in Westminster's gatehouse and petitioned the queen to put him to death rather than leave him there, in his own filth.

Moved to the Tower of London he was held in greater but solitary comfort, but Queen Elizabeth allowed the sadistic Topcliffe to continue torturing Southwell, who had readily admitted his priesthood. Prior to his trial on February 20 he was moved into a hole called Limbo; the government did not even try to implicate him in any plot against the Queen; he was executed just because he was a Catholic priest. When he was executed on February 21st, the crowds made sure he was dead before the butchery began--and no one cheered when his severed head was displayed to the crowd. Indeed, Elizabeth's government recognized that they had gone too far--there was lull in executions of Catholic priests in London. Lord Cecil even ignored Topcliffe's desires to get started on new victims.

Robert Southwell was canonized by Pope Paul VI among the group called The Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. In addition to be a great saint and steadfast martyr, he is regarded as one of the great poets of the Elizabethan Age. Much of his poetry was written while he was held in solitary confinement in the Tower of London and was published posthumously.

Pope St. John Paul II remembered the 200th anniversary of Newman's birth in this 2001 letter to Birmingham:

Newman was born in troubled times which knew not only political and military upheaval but also turbulence of soul. Old certitudes were shaken, and believers were faced with the threat of rationalism on the one hand and fideism on the other. Rationalism brought with it a rejection of both authority and transcendence, while fideism turned from the challenges of history and the tasks of this world to a distorted dependence upon authority and the supernatural. In such a world, Newman came eventually to a remarkable synthesis of faith and reason which were for him "like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of the truth" (Fides et Ratio,Introduction; cf. ibid., 74). It was the passionate contemplation of truth which also led him to a liberating acceptance of the authority which has its roots in Christ, and to the sense of the supernatural which opens the human mind and heart to the full range of possibilities revealed in Christ. "Lead kindly light amid the encircling gloom, lead Thou me on", Newman wrote in "The Pillar of the Cloud"; and for him Christ was the light at the heart of every kind of darkness. For his tomb he chose the inscription: Ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem; and it was clear at the end of his life’s journey that Christ was the truth he had found.

But Newman’s search was shot through with pain. Once he had come to that unshakeable sense of the mission entrusted to him by God, he declared: "Therefore, I will trust Him... If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him... He does nothing in vain... He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide the future from me. Still, He knows what He is about" (Meditations and Devotions). All these trials he knew in his life; but rather than diminish or destroy him they paradoxically strengthened his faith in the God who had called him, and confirmed him in the conviction that God "does nothing in vain". In the end, therefore, what shines forth in Newman is the mystery of the Lord’s Cross: this was the heart of his mission, the absolute truth which he contemplated, the "kindly light" which led him on.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Blessed Thomas Pormort: Friends, Relatives and One Great Enemy

From the Catholic Encyclopedia:

English martyr, b. at Hull about 1559; d. at St. Paul's Churchyard, 20 Feb., 1592. He was probably related to the family of Pormort of Great Grimsby and Saltfletby, Lincoln shire. George Pormort, Mayor of Grimsby in 1565, had a second son Thomas baptized, 7 February, 1566, but this can hardly be the martyr. After receiving some education at Cambridge, he went to Rheims, 15 January, 1581, and thence, 20 March following, to Rome, where he was ordained priest in 1587. He entered the household of Owen Lewis, Bishop of Cassano, 6 March, 1587. On 25 April, 1590, Pormort became prefect of studies in the Swiss college at Milan. He was relieved of this office, and started for England, 15 September, without waiting for his faculties. Crossing the St. Gotthard Pass, he reached Brussels before 29 November. There he became man servant to Mrs. Geoffrey Pole, under the name of Whitgift, the Protestant archbishop being his godfather. With her he went to Antwerp, intending to proceed to Flushing, and thence to England. He was arrested in London on St. James's Day (25 July), 1591, but he managed to escape. In August or September, 1591, he was again taken, and committed to Bridewell, whence he was removed to Topcliffe's house. He was repeatedly racked and sustained a rupture in consequence. On 8 February following he was convicted of high treason for being a seminary priest, and for reconciling John Barwys, or Burrows, haberdasher. He pleaded that he had no faculties; but he was found guilty. At the bar he accused Topcliffe of having boasted to him of indecent familiarities with the queen. Hence Topcliffe obtained a mandamus to the sheriff to proceed with the execution, though Archbishop Whitgift endeavoured to delay it and make his godson conform, and though (it is said) Pormort would have admitted conference with Protestant ministers. The gibbet was erected over against the haberdasher's shop, and the martyr was kept standing two hours in his shirt upon the ladder on a very cold day, while Topcliffe vainly urged him to withdraw his accusation.

There are several interesting names in this account: Mrs. Geoffrey Pole might be Catherine Pole, the daughter-in-law of Sir Geoffrey Pole, Blessed Margaret Pole's youngest son. He died in 1558 before his brother, Reginald Cardinal Pole, and "He left five sons and six daughters, two of whom were married, and one a nun of Sion." One of his sons was Geoffrey Pole of Lordington, Sussex, and of West Stoke, Sussex (1546-before 9 March 1590/1591), who was educated at Winchester College, Winchester, Hampshire, married Catherine Dutton sometime before 1573, who died after 1608. Geoffrey and Catherine had three sons: Henry Pole (bef. 1570-aft. 1570), Arthur Pole of Lordington, Sussex, and of West Stoke, Sussex (c. 1575-murdered, Rome, 23 June 1605), who was educated at the Palazzo Farnese, in Rome, Italy, along with the son of Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma, and became Lord of the Manor of Walderton, Sussex, and a Member of the Household of Cardinal Odoardo Farnese, unmarried and without issue, and Geoffrey Pole of Lordington, Sussex, and of West Stoke, Sussex (c. 1577-assassinated, Rome, bef. 7 January 1619), who was educated at the seminaries, in Douai, France, and at the English College, in Rome, Italy, unmarried and without issue. Now why Arthur was murdered in Rome on 23 June 1605 and Geoffrey assassinated in Rome sometime before 7 January 1619, I have not been able to ascertain.

The Whitgift mentioned is John Whitgift, Archbishop of Canterbury (pictured above), nominated by Elizabeth I in 1583, after the death of William Grindal, her second Archbishop of Canterbury.

Richard Topcliffe, is, of course, Queen Elizabeth's servant who had the duties of finding and torturing priests. The History of Parliament website provides some detail of his career, with definite hints of unpopularity, and unsavory behavior. In the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (subscription required) his entry begins: "Topcliffe, Richard (1531–1604), interrogator and torturer."

Pormort was included among the 85 Martyrs of England and Wales beatified by Pope St. John Paul in 1987.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Quick Read: Jean Plaidy's "The Murder in the Tower"

Plaidy (aka Victoria Holt, Philippa Carr, Eleanor Hibbert, etc) tells the story of the Overbury murder in this quick-paced and complex novel. The villainess Frances Howard, later the Countess of Essex and then the Countess of Suffolk, is a selfish and manipulative woman who makes Scarlett O'Hara seem like, well, Melanie Hamilton. Scarlett O'Hara never plotted to poison her first husband or murder one of her second husband's friends/opponents!

Plaidy's Frances is always in search of what will make her happy--at first marriage to the Earl of Essex seems a good idea since it will bring her to Court, but by the time he returns from the Continent, she had already fallen in and out of love with Henry, the Prince of Wales. Tiring of Henry she wants to become first the Earl of Somerset's mistress and then his wife, but she is married so has to get rid of that obstacle. Frances has no depth and no real attraction, at least in this reader's view--living for pleasure she is doomed to fail.

This is no great masterpiece of historical fiction; Plaidy skims along the surface of the confusing parties and issues of Jacobean England. At first she depicts the domestic life of James I of England, his wife Anne, their daughter Elizabeth and sons Henry and Charles. Prince Henry seems to threaten his father because of his popularity, but he dies young and then Elizabeth marries the Palatine and is off to Bohemia. Anne and Charles fade to the background while Plaidy explores the world of James's favorites and the underground world of poisons and witchcraft Frances discovers to make the Earl of Somerset love her and kill her husband. Plaidy does not identify James I as a homosexual or these favorites as lovers.

Frances gets off too easy in fiction as she did in life. Though she plotted to murder her first husband and succeeded in murdering Thomas Overbury, James I commutes her death sentence to imprisonment in the Tower and then exile from Court for the sake of his favorite, Robert Carr. Carr's influence with King James, which was supported by Sir Thomas Overbury's skill and intelligence, fades right before his fall as George Villiers's influence rises because of his youth and beauty.

The parties and plotting about the Spanish Match between Charles, the Prince of Wales and the Infanta of Spain are in the background, as are James I's constant fear of assassination and overthrow, and his fascination with witches. One of the minor characters is Henry Howard, the Earl of Northampton, the crypto-Catholic son of Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey (Henry VIII's last victim). He dies before his role in the murder is fully discovered and just as his great niece Francis needs his help dealing with all the blackmail from those she plotted with to murder Thomas Overbury in the Tower of London.

Entertaining and effective historical fiction. The dialogue reads like real people talking to each other.

I'm no expert in historical attire, but is the gown depicted on the cover--at least the sleeves and the belt make me wonder--historically accurate for the Court of St. James during the rule of James I?

Anne Somerset wrote a nonfiction account of Overbury's murder: Unnatural Murder: Poison at the Court of James I.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Martyrs on February 18 in 1594 and 1601

Blessed William Harrington was born in 1566. When he was 15 years old, the hunted priest, Edmund Campion visited his family home, Mount St. John. Impressed by the future martyr and saint, William left England and studied for the priesthood and prepared for the Jesuit order in 1582. He had to return to England however, because he became ill. In February, 1591, however, he was able to return once more to Reims, and, having been ordained, returned at midsummer 1592. The next May he fell into the hands of the English authorities, and nine months later was executed at Tyburn on 18 February 1594.

One of those who had assisted the young priest (he was about 28 years old when he suffered), was Henry Donne, John Donne's brother. Henry was arrested, implicated William Harrington under torture, and died of the plague in Newgate Prison. John and Henry's mother, Elizabeth Heywood was the great niece of St. Thomas More, and their family was a devoutly Catholic recusant family. John Donne would eventually leave the Catholic Church and take orders in the Church of England, serving as Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral during the reigns of James I and Charles I.

Blessed John Pibush was born at Thirsk, Yorkshire, England, the son of Thomas and Jane Pibush. Educated at Rheims, France beginning 4 August 1580. Deacon in 1586. Ordained on 14 March 1587. Returned to England as missioner on 14 January 1588. Arrested at Morton-in-Marsh, Gloucester in the northern Cotswolds in 1593 for the crime of priesthood. Spent a year in Gatehouse prison, Westminster. Returned to Gloucester, he escaped on 19 February 1594; he was captured the next day at Matson. Sent back to Westminster, he was convicted on 1 July 1595 for the treason of Catholic priesthood. He spent over five years in Queen's Bench prison awaiting execution, ministering to fellow prisoners whenever he could. He was finally hung, drawn, and quartered on 18 February 1601 at Saint Thomas's Waterings, Camberwell, England

St. Thomas's Waterings or St. Thomas-a-Watering was an execution site on the Old Kent Road, and Chaucer's pilgrims passed it on the way to the shrine of St. Thomas a Becket in Canterbury.

Both martyrs were beatified in 1929 by Pope Pius XI.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

This Morning, On the Son Rise Morning Show


Today is Shrove Tuesday, so Matt Swaim and I will be talking about pancakes and Confession on the Son Rise Morning Show--a little earlier than usual, at 7:35 a.m. Eastern or 6;35 a.m. Central, right after the bottom of the hour newscast with Anna Mitchell.

Between celebrating the Septuagesima Season each Sunday at the Church of St. Anthony of Padua here in Wichita (Extraordinary Form), reading about the Septuagesima Season, reading about Cheesefair and Meatfair Sundays in the Eastern Rite before the Great Fast, and reading Blessed John Henry Newman's Parochial and Plain Sermons on Septuagesima and Lent in preparation for my Newman lecture (did I mention it's tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. at Newman University?), I think I am just about ready for Lent! I've also ordered this beautiful CD (Miserere: A Sequence of Music for Lent, St. Joseph, and the Annunciation by The Choir of Westminster Cathedral from Hyperion Records) which is on its way for arrival later this week.

Listen live here as I report on the annual International Pancake Day races!

Tomorrow Night: Cardinal Newman Day Lecture


From Newman University:

As part of Cardinal Newman Week, the annual week-long celebration of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, Newman University will present local author and speaker Stephanie A. Mann.

Mann will deliver the Cardinal Newman Lecture, which is entitled “Blessed John Henry Newman on Lent: Affliction and Love.”

The event will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 18, in the Dugan-Gorges Conference Center, inside the Dugan Library on the Newman University campus, 3100 McCormick. The event is free and open to the public, and is presented by the Gerber Institute for Catholic Studies at Newman University. Ash Wednesday Mass will follow the lecture at 9 p.m. in St. John’s Chapel, inside Sacred Heart Hall on the Newman campus.


Mann’s lecture will explore how Newman expresses the Church’s age-old call to prayer, fasting, and alms-giving during Lent to conform to God’s Will in preparation for Easter, and Eternal Life. Mann will also describe how Newman “practiced what he preached” with examples from his life and personal devotions.

Mann is a member of Blessed Sacrament Parish and is on the Wichita Diocesan Speakers Bureau roster. She is the author of Supremacy and Survival: How Catholics Endured the English Reformation. She also writes for periodicals including The Catholic Answer Magazine and the St. Austin Review. Mann is a regular guest on EWTN and Ave Maria Radio programs, including the “Son Rise Morning Show” and “Kresta in the Afternoon.”

“Stephanie Mann’s lecture looks to be a promising way to begin the Lenten season,” said John McCormick, Ph.D., director of the Gerber Institute and associate professor of theology at Newman.


I was working at then Kansas Newman College as the administration assistant for the Gerber Institute for Catholic Studies and the Theology/Philosophy department when John McCormick interviewed and was hired for a Theology faculty position--other fun personal background to this presentation is that it's not my first Cardinal Newman lecture at the same institution. When I was working at Kansas Newman College as an admissions counselor I was asked to make a presentation on Newman. My topic was "Newman and the Rambler Incident"! Thirty-three (33) years later and they ask me back! 

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Last Whig Historian Born: G.M. Trevelyan

George Macauley Trevelyan was born on February 16, 1876 in Stratford-upon-Avon. He was the great nephew of Thomas Babington Macauley and he maintained his relative's Whig view of English History.

This review essay from The London Review of Books of two biographies of G.M. Trevelyan sums up his beliefs:

G.M. Trevelyan was the strongly agnostic son of a mildly ‘nothingarian’ father. The grandparents were Evangelical Anglican on one side, Unitarian on the other. All three Trevelyan brothers were unbelievers, but with George it was much more than mere absence of belief, it was a creed in its own right. ‘Two terrible things have happened this week,’ he was heard to say, ‘my son has bought a motorbike and my daughter has become a Christian.’ As a young don, he was turned down on religious grounds by the first great love of his life, the daughter of a great Anglican family. In the aftermath of this rejection, he thought ‘a definitely agnostic atmosphere is essential for my free development of work and of life’. His daughter, the wife of a historian bishop with whom Trevelyan got on rather well, not surprisingly softens the outlines, notes his regular attendance at Chapel when Master of Trinity (1940-51), and records his saying: ‘If there had been more sensible clergymen in Cambridge in my time I could have been a churchman.’

But the Trevelyan who attended Chapel as an official duty – Trinity was worth a mass – had essentially the same outlook as the Harrow schoolboy who had refused to be confirmed. He preached a sermon in Trinity in 1945, but it was not a Christian sermon. To say he was merely anti-clerical is only partly true, though he retained the old Evangelical family feeling against high churchmen, for his definition of anti-clericalism was pretty capacious. Talking in old age of Lucretius, he burst out: ‘And doesn’t it strike you as extraordinary that Lucretius should have lived and written only a few years before the greatest outburst of clericalism that the world has ever seen?’ Trevelyan’s judgment of Christianity was probably formed essentially by his experience of it as a university party at Cambridge: his knowledge of it in other contexts was slight, though he did once stoop to arrange an honorary degree for Dorothy Sayers. But his main reason for opposing Christianity was that he believed in something else, and did so to the end.

He really believed in Carlyle, Shelley, Meredith, civic altruism, the countryside, Garibaldi, and the lives of heroes teaching by example. If he had not been more gentleman than intellectual, he might have become a Comtean; as it was, he remained a Carlylean. His last two publications were attempts to put Carlyle and Meredith before the public of the 1950s; he had been trying to do the same thing in his The Meredith Pocket Book of 1906. His Clark Lectures of 1953, his last sustained composition, showed how little two wars had affected his creed. He defended Scott as the great social historian who had made Carlyle and Macaulay possible, vindicated Shelley against Arnold, and preached a religion of poetry: ‘It is joy, joy in our inmost hearts. It is a passion like love or it is nothing.’ He fused England, poetry, joy, youth and landscape in a single sacramental experience. If this is rather like Arnold, dynastic connections are not far to seek: his wife was the great-niece of the poet, and her mother, Mrs Humphry Ward of Robert Elsmere fame, had even composed a special free-thinkers’ marriage service for G.M. Trevelyan’s wedding. The late Victorian child was truly father to the Master of Trinity. Trevelyan was as strongly opposed to modernity, urban modernity, as any Christian. If he could move people ‘to seriously question the value of modern life, I shall be quite satisfied’. He was as explicitly sacramental as any Christian. He saw the modern passion for mountains, rocks and moors as ‘one of the sacraments prepared for man or discovered by man’. In this he had all the seriousness and severity of his Evangelical ancestors. He was a pious pagan who took his paganism with a deep reverence, without any touch of hedonism. He felt kinship with Meredith, Shelley and Carlyle because they – Meredith particularly – seemed to him to be pious pagans who had faced the problems of life without religion with a religious outlook. He even believed in a pagan version of life after death. The statue of Garibaldi in every Italian town was ‘the symbol of the hope of resurrection after centuries of death’. At times of difficulty, his thoughts turned to Garibaldi, as the orthodox might look to Christ.


Not "What Would Jesus Do?" I guess, but "What Would Garibaldi Do?" According to the review, his last thoughts and words were historical:

The day before he died, Trevelyan had Macaulay’s Third Chapter read to him. His last words were ‘Peterloo’. The nurse asked: ‘What about Peterloo, Master?’ He replied, ‘1819,’ and did not speak again.

The chapter referred to is a great work of historical writing volume one of Trevelyan's great uncle's The History of England, from the Accession of James II, : "The State Of England In 1685". You can hear it read here.

March 10, 2015: The 400th Anniversary of a Martyrdom

The Archdiocese of Glasgow, Scotland is preparing to celebrate the 400th anniversary of St. John Ogilvie's martyrdom this year on March 9 and 10. The former Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, will represent Pope Francis at the events which include Solemn Vespers at St Aloysius Church, Glasgow at 7.30 pm on March 9 and a Mass in St Andrew’s Cathedral, Glasgow at 7.30 pm on March 10, St John Ogilvie’s feast day.:

John Ogilvie, a convert to the Catholic faith from Banffshire was educated on mainland Europe before being ordained a Jesuit priest. He returned to his native country to serve for a short time. He was hanged at Glasgow Cross on March 10 1615 after having been arrested for saying Mass and celebrating the sacraments with persecuted Catholics in and around the Glasgow area. He was canonised by Blessed Pope Paul VI in 1976 following the miraculous cure of Glasgow man John Fagan from cancer.

Commenting on his nomination, Cardinal Murphy O’Connor said: “I feel greatly honoured to be appointed by Pope Francis as a special envoy for the solemn celebration of the 400th centenary of the martyrdom of St John Ogilvie in Glasgow.

“I am particularly happy because I was in Rome for the saint’s canonisation in 1976 and took part in the great celebration for the Church in Scotland and indeed, the universal Church.

“I look forward to the events taking place in Glasgow on March 9-10 and to presenting the Holy Father’s message to the Church in Scotland and to all those present at the celebrations.”

Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow, who will preside at the anniversary events, said: “The Bishops of Scotland intend to celebrate this anniversary both as an event of great joy for the Catholic community in Scotland and as a moment of new hope for all Christians, for all believers and for all people of good will. Cardinal Murphy O’Connor’s presence and participation as the Papal envoy will add even greater significance and will bring the Successor of Peter closer to us and to the people of Scotland.


More about St. John Ogilvie, SJ next month on his feast.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Happiness of the Soul on Quinquagesima Sunday

From volume 5 of the Parochial and Plain Sermons,
Sermon 22. "The Thought of God, the Stay of the Soul";
"Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father." Rom. viii. 15.:

I say, then, that the happiness of the soul consists in the exercise of the affections; not in sensual pleasures, not in activity, not in excitement, not in self esteem, not in the consciousness of power, not in knowledge; in none of these things lies our happiness, but in our affections being elicited, employed, supplied. As hunger and thirst, as taste, sound, and smell, are the channels through which this bodily frame receives pleasure, so the affections are the instruments by which the soul has pleasure. When they are exercised duly, it is happy; when they are undeveloped, restrained, or thwarted, it is not happy. This is our real and true bliss, not to know, or to affect, or to pursue; but to love, to hope, to joy, to admire, to revere, to adore. Our real and true bliss lies in the possession of those objects on which our hearts may rest and be satisfied.

Now, if this be so, here is at once a reason for saying that the thought of God, and nothing short of it, is the happiness of man; for though there is much besides to serve as subject of knowledge, or motive for action, or means of excitement, yet the affections require a something more vast and more enduring than anything created. What is novel and sudden excites, but does not influence; what is pleasurable or useful raises no awe; self moves no reverence, and mere knowledge kindles no love. He alone is sufficient for the heart who made it. I do not say, of course, that nothing short of the Almighty Creator can awaken and answer to our love, reverence, and trust; man can do this for man. Man doubtless is an object to rouse his brother's love, and repays it in his measure. Nay, it is a great duty, one of the two chief duties of religion, thus to be minded towards our neighbour. But I am not speaking here of what we can do, or ought to do, but what it is our happiness to do: and surely it may be said that though the love of the brethren, the love of all men, be one half of our obedience, yet exercised by itself, were that possible, which it is not, it would be no part of our reward. And for this reason, if for no other, that our hearts require something more permanent and uniform than man can be. We gain much for a time from fellowship with each other. It is a relief to us, as fresh air to the fainting, or meat and drink to the hungry, or a flood of tears to the heavy in mind. It is a soothing comfort to have those whom we may make our confidants; a comfort to have those to whom we may confess our faults; a comfort to have those to whom we may look for sympathy. Love of home and family in these and other ways is sufficient to make this life tolerable to the multitude of men, which otherwise it would not be; but still, after all, our affections exceed such exercise of them, and demand what is more stable. Do not all men die? are they not taken from us? are they not as uncertain as the grass of the field? We do not give our hearts to things irrational, because these have no permanence in them. We do not place our affections in sun, moon, and stars, or this rich and fair earth, because all things material come to nought, and vanish like day and night. Man, too, though he has an intelligence within him, yet in his best estate he is altogether vanity. If our happiness consists in our affections being employed and recompensed, "man that is born of a woman" cannot be our happiness; for how can he stay another, who "continueth not in one stay" himself?

But there is another reason why God alone is the happiness of our souls, to which I wish rather to direct attention:—the contemplation of Him, and nothing but it, is able fully to open and relieve the mind, to unlock, occupy, and fix our affections. We may indeed love things created with great intenseness, but such affection, when disjoined from the love of the Creator, is like a stream running in a narrow channel, impetuous, vehement, turbid. The heart runs out, as it were, only at one door; it is not an expanding of the whole man. Created natures cannot open us, or elicit the ten thousand mental senses which belong to us, and through which we really live. None but the presence of our Maker can enter us; for to none besides can the whole heart in all its thoughts and feelings be unlocked and subjected. "Behold," He says, "I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear My voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me." "My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him." "God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts." "God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things." [Rev. iii. 20. John xiv. 23. Gal. iv. 6. 1 John iii. 20.] It is this feeling of simple and absolute confidence and communion, which soothes and satisfies those to whom it is vouchsafed. We know that even our nearest friends enter into us but partially, and hold intercourse with us only at times; whereas the consciousness of a perfect and enduring Presence, and it alone, keeps the heart open. Withdraw the Object on which it rests, and it will relapse again into its state of confinement and constraint; and in proportion as it is limited, either to certain seasons or to certain affections, the heart is straitened and distressed. If it be not over bold to say it, He who is infinite can alone be its measure; He alone can answer to the mysterious assemblage of feelings and thoughts which it has within it. "There is no creature that is not manifest in His sight, but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do." [Heb. iv. 12.]

Read the rest here.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Pilgrimages Yesterday and Today

Interesting project:

'Pilgrimage and England's cathedrals' employs a ground-breaking combination of interdisciplinary perspectives and methodologies to identify and analyse the core dynamics of pilgrimage and sacred sites in England from the 11th to 21st centuries, assess the growing significance of English cathedrals as sacred/heritage sites today, and inform management of/public engagement with these iconic buildings. Set against the background of the worldwide growth of pilgrimage and increasing importance of sacred sites, the project's innovative approaches and timely research agenda also contributes substantially to defining and establishing the emerging field of Pilgrimage Studies.

At the heart of this project is a new, wide-ranging analysis of the meaning and breadth of 'pilgrimage' and the role of sacred places past and present. Why did pilgrimage matter in the past and why does it still matter today? In exploring these issues, the project focuses attention on the role of cathedrals: places where, uniquely, national and local history and identity, material culture and traditional and emerging religious practice can be encountered together. Pilgrimage was central to the development and status of English cathedrals in the Middle Ages and although most shrines were destroyed at the Reformation, many of the great churches and monasteries which housed them remain as cathedrals today, literally shaped by their pilgrim past and retaining a strong pilgrimage legacy. Anglican cathedrals are increasingly refocusing on and reinstating shrines, reflecting an international multi-faith phenomenon in which an estimated 200 million people across the world engage in pilgrimage and religious tourism annually.

Historically the pilgrims going to a certain cathedral were intent on visiting a saint's shrine, praying for his or her intercession, acting in penitence for some great personal sin or in reparation for the sake some great blessing on themselves or another. Pilgrimage on earth was aimed at eventual arrival in heaven. It was expensive, dangerous--although pilgrims were supposed to be protected--arduous, and time-consuming. Walking along the pilgrimage route, the pilgrims were focused on their goal.

Although they were stripped of their shrines and saintly significance after the English Reformation, English cathedrals have remained a goal of pilgrimage. The project organizers comment that many coming to the cathedrals in the study, York, Durham, Canterbury, and Westminster, are not even Christian or may practice no faith at all:

Moreover, over 40% of those visitors came from faith traditions other than Christianity or had no religious affiliation. This suggests that cathedrals are seen as shaped by, but transcending, Christianity, offering unique access to the 'spiritual' within the context of history, heritage and culture, and providing meaningful spaces for people of all faiths and none. These developments demand fuller, rigorous, multi-disciplinary investigation so that implications for cathedrals, visitors and communities can be explored in detail.

File that under the heading "The Unintended Reformation"! The Protestant reformers of the sixteenth century in England would be shocked. Since Christianity means Jesus Christ, transcending Christianity would be the furthest thing in their minds; yet, their reformation started the process of destroying the worldview that held saints in heaven and sinners on earth (and in purgatory) in a community of pilgrimage and love.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Father Benedict's Legacy

On Wednesday this week on the Son Rise Morning Show, Matt Swaim and Anna Mitchell reminisced about Monday, February 11, 2013 when Pope Benedict XVI announced his retirement--I was scheduled for a Shrovetide interview that morning that changed into an analysis of Benedict's influence on Catholicism in England; I had 30 minutes to prepare!

The National Catholic Register cites the influence of that visit in this article, which notes that instead of the title "Emeritus Pope", he now uses the simple name Father Benedict:

Since his retirement, Benedict’s days have been filled with prayer and study, largely out of the public view. And he now goes by the simple title “Father Benedict.” However, some see the legacy of the pope emeritus as continuing to resonate in complementarity to that of his successor, Pope Francis. . . .

Benedict XVI’s legacy has also extended well beyond the Curia, with many young Catholics attributing their conversions to his pontificate.

Following his 2010 visit to the U.K., for instance, there has been a rise in Catholic youth-initiated movements — Youth 2000, Night Fever and Flame Congress — as well as a slow and steady increase in men and women pursuing vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

The impact of this visit on U.K. Catholics was demonstrated shortly after the papal resignation was announced through an online initiative entitled Generation Benedict, in which 40 young people were invited to share their testimonies of how the German pope had touched their lives.

The initiative came in response to “a lot of negative media surrounding his abdication,” said Collette Power, co-founder of Generation Benedict, along with Lisette Carr, both young laywomen from Britain.

“Our lives had been profoundly changed by his papacy and by the invitation he had extended to us to know the Lord and to become saints,” she said, “and we knew a lot of other young people that had the same experience. This wasn’t being told in the media.”

Power told CNA she had lapsed from her faith but experienced a conversion during Benedict’s visit to the U.K., culminating in the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman in Cofton Park.

Although she had gone to Mass as a child, she said “no one had ever really explained the heart of the Gospel, which Pope Benedict did when he visited England.”

“To know that God loves me and that I’m called to have a personal relationship with Jesus; and that I’m called to holiness, nothing less, not the mediocrity of the world; that the Church challenges me and the Lord challenges me to be a saint [are all things Benedict explained].”

God bless Father Benedict! I am now reading his collection of biographies of holy men and women in the Middle Ages and beyond given at General Audiences from January 2010 to January 2011.  His erudition, love for the Church and her saints, and concern for all to be holy shine through these portraits.

Blame the Irish? No--Blame the English; Why Catholics Can't Sing

From First Things, an article in which the author (facetiously) blames the fact that Catholics in the USA can't/don't sing at Mass on Irish influence. He imagines conversing with his parish priest to solve the problem of "Why can’t Catholics sing like Lutherans?" and his answer comes back, "Blame the Irish." I thought we were supposed to blame Canada. Or Bush.

Q: Let’s get right to the point. Why are Catholics such poor hymn singers?
A: It’s because we don’t have enough Lutheran converts.

Q: The hymn singing I hear hardly amounts to a “joyful noise.” Sounds more like plaintive squeaks from depressed marmosets.
A: Bless you, my son, for your candor. . . .


Q: And then tell them any nine little old Lutheran widows can sing better than the whole lot of them.
A: How about if I said eight Methodists on walkers?

Q: That’ll work. You tell them how to sing: Stand up straight, hymnal front and center, lungs filled, voices projected up and out, like they want to praise God in song.
A: And after that?

Q: Try them out on a couple verses of A Mighty Fortress and see if they haven’t improved.
A: I get the idea. But it’ll never work.

Q: Why?
A: We’re programmed Irish. Lutherans are programmed German.

Q: Come again.
A: Simple history. German Lutherans came to America with two hundred years of hymns in their history and they kept writing new ones. Irish Catholics came with bawdy songs that can’t be sung in mixed company; it was the only music the English let them sing.

Q: What?
A: Sure. The Irish invented the low spoken mass. Catholics singing hymns in public would otherwise have attracted the attention of their English Protestant oppressors. Besides, if they can’t bang a bodhran in church they wouldn’t sing anyway, just on principle.

So my response to the article was we shouldn't blame the Irish for Catholics in the USA not singing--we should blame the English! The English persecuted the Irish so they couldn't sing hymns at secret Masses! "Blame the Irish"? No, "Blame the English"! It's all their fault!

The Irish did not invent the low spoken Mass, but they certainly used it! Low Mass, in which the priest speaks what he would sing at High Mass developed in monasteries and at cathedrals where many priests each celebrated Mass in separate chapels. The author, Russell E. Saltzman links a review of Thomas Day's Why Catholics Can't Sing: The Culture of Catholicism and the Triumph of Bad Taste. He misread or misstates what the reviewer said; she didn't say the Irish invented the Low Mass--they just used it for safety's sake:

The Irish people were persecuted for centuries. Their glory is that they "kept the faith." There was little opportunity for singing at Masses celebrated behind the hedge rows; one did not have to attract the attention of English soldiers by singing. The silent low Mass was the norm.

I read Day's book when it came out: he blamed the poor musical quality of the hymns chosen for the lack of congregational singing. When hymns like "Holy, Holy, Holy", "Holy God, We Praise Thy Name," various Marian hymns, "Faith of Our Fathers", or other traditional hymns are selected, Catholics usually sing out well, in my experience.

Even though William Byrd wrote his Masses for Three, Four, and Five Voices and the Gradualia so Catholics in England would have music for both the Ordinary and the Propers of the Mass, most Masses in England during the recusant era, from Elizabeth I's reign to the late eighteenth century--unless they were celebrated at the foreign government embassy chapels in London--were probably Low, just because they were illegal and therefore hidden.

What's so opportune about this discussion is that I have a section in my Cardinal Newman lecture on how Newman's Oratorians, including Fathers Edward Caswall and Frederick Faber wrote hymns for congregational singing or translated Latin hymns for the same purpose. Certainly Irish Catholics in England attending the Oratory churches in Birmingham and London learned to sing hymns in church--without a bodhran! Cardinal Newman on violin and the Irish on a bodhran--what a St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Blessed George Haydock and Companions


Blesseds George Haydock, James Fenn, Thomas Hemerford, John Nutter, and John Mundyn were all executed at Tyburn on the charge of conspiring against Elizabeth  on February 12, 1584.

What of course truly sealed Father Haydock's fate was his answer to the question: Who is the head of the Church in England? which he even wrote down, according to Dom Bede Camm's telling of his imprisonment and trial:

For a year and three months, i.e. until May, 1583, George Haydock was kept in a narrow cell in an out-of-the-way part of the Tower, and access to him was for the most part strictly forbidden. On one occasion, however, a priest managed to obtain admission to his cell by a ruse, and gave him Holy Communion. On another occasion, as the Annals of the English College at Rome record, a Protestant minister came to dispute with him, and finding, after a lengthy discussion, that he made no way, asked him in a fit of rage whether or not the Queen was the head of the English Church. 'By what authority,' replied the priest, 'do you ask me this question? It must be remembered that, as this question involves danger of goods and life, none may put it unless under warrant from the Crown.' The minister answered, ‘Were you a true servant of Christ, you would surely not inquire as to my authority, but would make open profession of your belief before everybody'. ‘Do you, heretic as you are,' replied the priest, reproach me with cowardice in the cause of God? I believe that the Queen neither is, nor can be, the head of the English Church.' The minister asked, 'Who then?' 'The Roman Pontiff,' replied the other. ‘Traitor!' exclaimed the minister; you dare to say as much, because there are no fit witnesses to convict you of your saying.' ‘Not so,' rejoined the priest, but to make confession of my faith.' ‘If so,' said the minister, ' put down in writing what you have said just now.' ‘But,' said the priest, 'I have neither ink nor paper, yet will I gratify you to the best of my power,' and taking a piece of charcoal he wrote as follows on the door of his cell: Gregory XIII is head of the English and of the Universal Church, to whom the whole world must be subject if it would be saved'. He thus confounded the minister, and so impressed his gaoler that he was less opposed than heretofore to the Catholic religion."

On 5 February, 1583-4, he was indicted, with James Fenn and seven other priests, for having conspired against the Queen at Rheims, 23 September, 1581, and for agreeing to come to England on I October, and for setting out for England on I November. The absurdity of the accusation has been pointed out by Father Pollen. On the next day he and Fenn and three fellow-martyrs, whose indictments were equally erroneous, were brought before the Queen's Bench at Westminster. George Haydock had long ago chosen St. Dorothy as his patron, and was accustomed to commend himself and his actions day by day to her guidance. He therefore regarded it as of so happy an augury that he should be brought to the bar on her day, “that he made a note of it in the calendar of his breviary, which, on the eve of his departure from the prison of his body and soul, he presented to the venerable Archbishop of Armagh, then also a prisoner of Jesus Christ", On his appearance at the bar, George Haydock, though not, so far as we know, a member of the Society of Jesus, "was in Jesuit's weed". "So grave a man," says an eye-witness, "as ever I sett my eyes upon, he wore a coate of black very low and upon the same a cloke of black downe almost to the rounde. He had in his hand a black staff and upon his head a velvet coyfe, and there upon a broade seemly black felt." He pleaded Not Guilty. The next day the jury found all the five priests Guilty, and they were sentenced to death; but, whereas the other four were committed in shackles to the "pit" in the Tower, George Haydock, probably because his health was such that it was thought he was unlikely to outlive the rigours of that pestilential dungeon, went back to his old quarters. 

The Archbishop of Armagh, held in the Tower of London, was Richard Creagh. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:

From his repeated examinations before the English Privy Council his enmity to Shane O'Neill [one of the great chiefs of Ulster] and his unwavering loyalty to England were made plain. But his steadfastness in the Faith and his great popularity in Ireland were considered crimes, and in consequence the Council refused to set him free. Not content with this his moral character was assailed. The daughter of his jailer was urged to charge him with having assaulted her. The charge was investigated in public court, where the girl retracted, declaring her accusation absolutely false. It has been said that Creagh was poisoned in prison, and this, whether true or false, was believed at the time of his death. His grand-nephew, Peter Creagh, was Bishop of Cork about 1676. He was imprisoned for two years in consequence of the false accusations of Titus Oates, but acquitted (1682), was transferred to the Archdiocese of Tuam in 1686. He followed James II to the Continent, was appointed Archbishop of Dublin in 1693, but was never able to return and take possession. He became Coadjutor Bishop of Strasburg, where he died (July, 1705).

Blesseds George Haydock, James Fenn, Thomas Hemerford, John Nutter, and John Mundyn were all among the 85 Martyrs of England and Wales beatified by Pope St. John Paul II in 1987.

A Clerk of Oxford Honored

From History Today:

This year’s Longman-History Today award for Digital History went to Eleanor Parker for her blog, A Clerk of Oxford.

Parker writes regular blog posts on an astoundingly wide range of subjects relating to Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian history and literature. Her academic work as a researcher at The University of Oxford focuses on the interaction between Anglo-Saxon and Viking culture in the eleventh and twelfth centuries following the Norse settlement in England.

The blog posts and her Twitter account, however, are much more wide-ranging. As History Today's editor, Paul Lay remarked in his speech at the award ceremony: not a morning goes by where she has not shared some fascinating and insightful new piece of medieval miscellany.

Her skill lies in making medieval topics – texts that are considered esoteric even by medieval specialists’ standards – engaging, accessible and fascinating to an audience of non-specialist readers. It is an added bonus that they have the same effect on specialist readers, too. Her inclusion of medieval texts in their original language as well as in translation means many of the misconceptions surrounding them are completely bypassed and her readers can engage directly with the material, guided by her expert commentary. The sources she draws on are wide-ranging, and always presented and discussed with humour, insight and passion.

This blog is a treasure trove of grounded in exemplary scholarship and is a much appreciated contribution to the field of history online.

I have her blog linked and reference it often. Quite an honor!