Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Anne Howard and Two English Martyrs

Anne Dacre, one of three daughters born to Thomas Dacre, 4th Baron Dacre and his second wife, Elizabeth Leyburne, was born on March 21, 1557, while Mary I was Queen of England. When Baron Dacre died in 1566, his wife married Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk. Howard arranged marriages between Dacres' daughters and his sons by his first two wives, Mary FitzAlan (Philip Howard) and Margaret Audley (Thomas and William).

Anne was married to Philip Howard, who inherited his grandfather's FitaAlan title as Earl of Arundel in 1580, his father having been attainted and executed in 1572. Philip and Anne were married in 1571 when they were both about 14 years old; he graduated from St. John's at Cambridge in 1574 and went to Elizabeth I's Court a couple of years later. He neglected Anne and she converted or reverted to Catholicism in 1582/83 and was soon in trouble for recusancy, held under house arrest by Sir Thomas Shirley and bore her first child, a daughter named Elizabeth, in 1583.

She was questioned by Sir Francis Walsingham's agents on April 9, 1584 and denied that she had been converted to Catholicism by any Jesuit or other priest, affirmed that she had not attended Church of England services for two and a half years, and protested that she had never said or supported any statement against Elizabeth or her government. She was released from house arrest, but then Father William Weston received her husband Philip into the Catholic Church in September of 1584. By April of 1585, they had seen each other for the last time. As she was pregnant, Philip prepared to leave England and await her on the Continent, after she was safely delivered on their second child. Since he was captured before leaving port, Philip was imprisoned in the Tower of London and held there at Elizabeth I's pleasure.

In the meantime, Anne delivered of a son (Thomas) in 1586, while Philip languished in the Tower, finally charged with treason during the Spanish Armada crisis, and condemned to death--not knowing when the sentence would be carried out at Elizabeth's orders. He finally died in the Tower on October 19, 1595. He was buried in St. Peter ad Vincula, but Anne and Thomas were finally able to obtain his body to bury it in the FitzAlan Chapel in Arundel Castle during the reign of James I.

Also while her husband was in the Tower, Anne Howard began to help Father Robert Southwell, SJ, especially with the printing of his prose and some of his poetry. He wrote An Epistle of Comfort for Philip Howard, urging him to remain true to the Catholic faith. The Poetry Foundation website on St. Robert Southwell offers this summary of the epistle:

Southwell begins modestly and generally, pointing out that suffering is a sign that his readers are out of the devil’s power, loved by God, and imitators of Christ. Suffering, he argues, is inseparable from human life and in most cases is no more than the sufferer deserves. Then, at midpoint, he turns to the peculiar situation of the recusants, beginning with the argument that there is comfort in suffering for the Catholic faith. He then presents a series of all-too-real possibilities, starting with general persecution and ascending through imprisonment and violent death to martyrdom itself. The concluding chapters deal with the unhappiness of the lapsed, the impossibility of martyrdom for the heretic, the glory that awaits the martyr, and, lastly, a warning to the persecutors. The content and the style are much influenced by the patristic authors whom Southwell quotes so deftly; the tone is measured, unyielding, even triumphant. In Southwell’s mind, the Catholics’ suffering is a direct consequence of the Protestant heresy, and that in turn is a manifestation of the perennial evil of earthly life. To bear its effects is an honor: “Let our adversaries therefore load us with the infamous titles of traitors, and rebels,” he writes,
as the Arians did in the persecution of the Vandals, and as the Ethnics were wont to call Christians sarmentitios, and semasios, because they were tied to halfpenny stakes, and burnt with shrubs: so let them draw us upon hurdles, hang us, unbowel us alive, mangle us, boil us, and set our quarters upon their gates, to be meat for the birds of the air, as they use to handle rebels: we will answer them as the Christians of former persecutions have done. Hic est habitus victoriae nostrae, hec palmata vestis, tali curru triumphamus, merito itaque victis non placemus. Such is the manner of our victory, such our conquerous garment, in such chariots do we triumph. What marvel therefore if our vanquished enemies mislike us?
Southwell also wrote Triumphs Over Death to console Philip Howard and his family when his half-sister Margaret Howard died in 1591 and  A Short Rule of Good Life for Anne Howard printed in 1587. He would suffer imprisonment and torture, executed on February 21, 1595.

After her husband's death, Anne Howard determined not to marry again. Her financial situation improved when Elizabeth I died and James I succeeded because he restored her jointure lands, those she received as her own when she married. She went to Court and met Anne of Denmark. Anne Howard died on April 19, 1630 when she was 83 years old.

Nancy Pollard Brown, who edited and wrote about the works of St. Robert Southwell, wrote the basic biography we have of Anne Howard.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Where's Eleanor? Hollywood's English History

I was doing a little research on Eleanor of Aquitaine's annulment of her marriage King Louis VII of France, which was granted in 1152. Soon after being freed from that marriage and getting her lands back, Eleanor married Henry, the Duke of Normandy, soon to be crowned the King of England in 1154. Although she had borne only daughters for Louis, Eleanor gave Henry several sons: William, Henry, Richard, Geoffrey, and John. One note about Eleanor and Louis VII's daughters: they were not declared illegitimate, since their parents had married in good faith in spite of their degree of consanguinity. Also note that Henry and Eleanor were even more closely related than Louis and Eleanor!

As viewers of The Lion in Winter know, Eleanor and Henry endured some marital problems--she helped her sons in rebellions against Henry and he had her imprisoned. He let her out for Christmas and other holidays, but as Robert Bolt's play imagines, those were not happy reunions!

Reading further about her life after Henry died and Richard freed her, I noticed that Eleanor had governed England during Richard's absences and survived in fact into King John's reign. She had helped raise the ransom demanded by Henry IV, the Holy Roman Emperor (who had been excommunicated by Pope Celestine III for imprisoning a Crusader). She was the regent in England while Richard was imprisoned.

That brought to mind those two great Hollywood movies about England while Richard is held by the Emperor, Ivanhoe and The Adventures of Robin Hood. Where's Eleanor in those movies? In both of them, John is trying to usurp Richard's throne. The historical John did try to offer Henry IV some money, along with King Philip II of France, to keep Richard prisoner until Michaelmas (September 29) in 1194, but Henry refused that offer. Richard I was finally released on February 4, 1194. 

So once again, for the sake of a good story, Hollywood misleads us. Eleanor was in charge, not Prince John or Sir Guy of Gisbourne, in England. I'll let you know soon why I was researching Eleanor of Aquitaine and her annulment from King Louis VII.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Charles I, Art Collector and Portrait Subject

The Royal Academy of Arts in London is hosting an exhibition of King Charles I's art collection. In the National Review, Brian T. Allen reviews the exhibition, focusing on the portraits of Charles by Van Dyck:

First brought to London at age 20 by the Marquess of Buckingham, Van Dyck was a stranger in a strange land, much as Charles was a stranger in the land of power and authority. He left London after a short time and spent six transformative years in Italy. He returned in 1631, an established, revered artist. He’d finally emerged from the shadow of Rubens, who was older, immensely distinguished, and also from Antwerp. Charles was convinced that collecting art would compensate for his painfully blatant deficiencies. Together, these two outsiders, the same age, naturally simpatico, developed an avant-garde, opulent iconographic program. Their partnership changed portraiture forever.

But isn’t there a hefty dollop of irony and theatricality in these portraits? Charles was not without self-awareness. His eye for art was sharp, and he understood that image was reality. But what was Charles’s reality? While Rubens’s royal subjects gush with confident, obvious strength, Van Dyck’s depictions of Charles and his family have a touch too much languor. Both artist and king loved sumptuous color and fabric. There’s also a palpable love of dressing up. Do the subjects seem serious and tough? No. Van Dyck’s royals are slim, elongated, and vaguely unworldly, with moving draperies and clouds in the background. We feel the swoosh. Yet a monarchy on the move is also a monarchy that’s not stable.

Both men were what we would call globalist in outlook at a time when “England First” was taking a firm hold. Charles had a Roman Catholic, French wife, and what about that expensive art collection, filled with gaudy Italian pictures? Van Dyck, also Catholic, from the Spanish Netherlands and a painter of images, would have seemed odious to anyone with a Puritan state of mind. He was pan-European. Coming much later, only Sargent and Whistler among Western artists so effortlessly navigated and absorbed so many cultures.

Please read the rest there.

Father Alexander Lucie-Smith comments on the exhibition for The Catholic Herald:

Despite his Protestant allegiance, there can be no doubt that Charles’s taste in art was deeply Catholic. A Madonna and Child, once thought to be by Raphael, hung in his bedroom, perhaps evidence for an object of private devotion, and one of the stars of the show is The Supper at Emmaus by Titian. Along with these examples of explicitly Catholic iconography are paintings, such as those by Correggio and Veronese which no Protestant could ever have produced. There is not a single work by an English artist in the whole exhibition. Charles’s favourite painter, Anthony van Dyck, was a Catholic, as was Peter Paul Rubens, that other great artist patronised by the Stuarts. In fact, I doubt there is a single work by a Protestant in the whole exhibition, apart from the Cranach Adam and Eve. No wonder the Commonwealth was so eager to sell the collection off and to break it up. To them, Charles’s great collection must have seemed to have been the work of the devil. Thankfully many of them went for high prices – the Correggio made an astonishing £800, though the Veronese was knocked down for just £11 – otherwise the Parliamentarians might have burned the lot.

More about the exhibition from the Royal Academy and from the Shop.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Ides of March in Scotland, 1878

Pope Leo XIII--one of my favorite popes--was elected to the  Chair of St. Peter on February 20, 1878. One of his first acts was to restore the Catholic hierarchy of Scotland on March 15, 1878, just as Pope Pius IX had restored the Catholic hierarchy of England in 1850. As in England, so in Scotland, Vicars Apostolic had been appointed after James Beaton, Cardinal Archbishop of Glasgow, died on April 24, 1603. The first new Archbishop of Glasgow was Charles Eyre; in St. Andrews and Edinburgh, John Strain became Archbishop; the sees of Aberdeen (Bishop John MacDonald), Argyll and The Isles (Bishop Angus MacDonald), Dunkeld (Bishop George Rigg), and Galloway (Bishop John McLachlen) were also established.

Twenty years later, Pope Leo reflected on this restoration in the encyclical Caritatis studium issued on July 25, 1898 (one of 85 he wrote during his 25 year papacy!):

To Our Venerable Brethren, the Archbishops, and Bishops of Scotland.

Venerable Brethren, Health and Apostolic Blessing.

The ardent charity which renders Us solicitous of Our separated brethren, in nowise permits Us to cease Our efforts to bring back to the embrace of the Good Shepherd those whom manifold error causes to stand aloof from the one Fold of Christ. Day after day We deplore more deeply the unhappy lot of those who are deprived of the fullness of the Christian Faith. Wherefore moved by the sense of the responsibility which Our most sacred office entails, and by the spirit and grace of the most loving Saviour of men, Whom We unworthily represent, We are constantly imploring them to agree at last to restore together with Us the communion of the one and the same faith. A momentous work, and of all human works the most difficult to be accomplished; one which God's almighty power alone can effect. But for this very reason We do not lose heart, nor are We deterred from Our purpose by the magnitude of the difficulties which cannot be overcome by human power alone. "We preach Christ crucified . . . and the weakness of God is stronger than men" (1 Cor. i. 23-25). In the midst of so many errors and of so many evils with which We are afflicted or threatened, We continue to point out whence salvation should be sought,exhorting and admonishing all nations to lift up "their eyes to the mountains whence help shall come" (Ps. cxx.). For indeed that which Isaias spoke in prophecy has been fulfilled, and the Church of God stands forth so conspicuously by its Divine origin and authority that it can be distinguished by all beholders: "And in the last days the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be prepared on the top of mountains and shall be exalted above the hills" (Is. ii. 2).

2. Scotland, so dear to the Holy See, and in a special manner to Us, has its place in Our care and solicitude. We love to recall the fact that over twenty years ago the first act of Our Apostolic Ministry was performed in favour of Scotland, for on the second day of our Pontificate We gave back to the Scottish people their Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. From that day forward, with your efficient co-operation, Venerable Brethren, and that of your clergy, We have constantly sought to promote the welfare of your nation, which is naturally inclined to embrace the truth. And now that We are so far advanced in years that the end cannot be delayed much longer, We have thought it meet to address you,Venerable Brethren, and thus give your nation a further proof of Our Apostolic affection.

3. The terrible storm which swept over the Church in the sixteenth century,deprived the vast majority of the Scottish people, as well as many other peoples of Europe, of that Catholic Faith which they had gloriously held for over one thousand years. It is most pleasing to Us to revert to the great achievements of your forefathers on behalf of Catholicism, and also to allude to some of those,and they are many, to whose virtue and illustrious deeds Scotland owes so much of her renown. Surely your fellow-countrymen will not take it ill that We should again remind them of what they owe to the Catholic Church and to the Apostolic See. We speak of what you already know. As your ancient Annals relate, St. Ninian, a countryman of yours, was so inflamed with the desire of greater spiritual progress by the reading of Holy Writ, that he exclaimed: "I shall rise and go over sea and land, seeking that truth which my soul loveth. But is so much trouble needful? Was it not said to Peter: `Thou are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it?' Therefore in the faith of Peter there is nothing wanting, nothing obscure,nothing imperfect, nothing against which evil doctrines and pernicious views can prevail, after the manner of the gates of hell. And where is the faith of Peter,but in the See of Peter? Thither, thither I must repair, that going forth from my country, from my kindred, and from my father's house, I may see in the land of the Vision the will of the Lord and be protected by His Temple." (Ex Hist. Vitae S. Niniani a S. Aelredo Ab. cons.) Hence, full of reverence he hastened to Rome, and when at the Tomb of the Apostles he had imbibed in abundance Catholic truth at its very source and fountainhead, by command of the Supreme Pontiff he returned home, preached the true Roman faith to his fellow-countrymen, and founded the Church of Galloway about two hundred years before St. Augustine landed in England. This was the faith of St. Columba; this was the faith kept so religiously and preached so zealously by the monks of old,whose chief centre, Iona, was rendered famous by their eminent virtues. Need We mention Queen Margaret, a light and ornament not only of Scotland, but of the whole of Christendom, who, though she occupied the most exalted position in point of worldly dignity,sought only in her whole life things eternal and divine, and thus spread throughout the Church

the luster of her virtues? There can be no doubt she owed this her eminent sanctity to the influence and guidance of the Catholic Faith. And did not the power and constancy of the Catholic faith give to Wallace and Bruce, the two great heroes of your race, their indomitable courage in defence of their country? We say nothing of the immense number of those who achieved so much for the commonwealth, and who belong to that progeny which the Catholic Church has never ceased to bring forth. We say nothing of the advantages which your nation has derived from her influence. It is undeniable that it was through her wisdom and authority that those famous seats of learning were opened at St. Andrews, Glasgow, and Aberdeen, and that your judicial system was drawn up and adopted. Hence We can well understand why Scotland has been honoured by the title of "Special Daughter of the Holy See."

St. Ninian, pray for us!
St. Columba, pray for us!
St. Margaret of Scotland, pray for us!
St. John Ogilvie, pray for us!

Image credit: St. Ninian, ora pro nobis!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Belloc (and Chesterton) on St. Thomas Aquinas

Remember that Anna Mitchell and I will discuss Belloc's views of Descartes and Pascal this morning around 7:45 a.m. Eastern//6:45 a.m. Central on the Son Rise Morning Show. Listen live here.

In the course of his discussion of Rene Descartes, Belloc mentions that Descartes did not deal with the proof of things outside of ourselves. In doing so, Belloc cites the names of Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas:

There is no rational process by which the reality of the external universe can be discovered; all we know is that it can be confidently affirmed. Aristotle, who might be called reason itself; St. Thomas, whose whole process was that of beginning with a doubt, and examining all that there was to be said for that doubt before the denial of it and the corresponding certitude could be arrived at, both postulate this second truth. Not only am I, I, but that which is not myself is just as real as I am, and what is more, can be and is apprehended by myself. 

That is, like all true philosophy, common sense. Your plain man, who is made in the image of God and who, so long as his reason and conscience are not warped, is on the right lines, has no patience with any denial of it. The whole of human society takes it for granted and must take it for granted. The witness in a Court of Justice, the man conducting his own affairs, the simplest activities of daily life, takes for granted as absolutely certain, not only the external universe in which we live, but our own power of apprehending it.

In his 1937 book, The Crisis of [Our] Civilization, based upon his lectures at Fordham University, Belloc explains St. Thomas Aquinas' place in Church History and philosophy:

The XIIIth century was that moment in which the high Middle Ages reached their summit. It was that moment in which the Catholic culture came, in the civic sense of the word “ culture,” to maturity. It was probably the supreme moment of our blood, at any rate one of the very greatest moments. Never had we had such a well-founded society before, never have we since had any society so well founded or so much concerned with justice. A proof, if proof were needed, of the greatness of that time is the scale of the chief public characters, already named: St. Louis the King, Ferdinand of Castile, St. Dominic and St. Francis, with their new orders of friars, Edward I of England, and, in philosophy, which determines all, the towering name of St. Thomas Aquinas. He established during that great time a body of coordinated doctrine and philosophy which no one had yet possessed. The scale of his work is on a par with its cultural value. He seemed to have put his seal upon the civilization which he adorned, and, through his establishment of right reason in philosophy, his marriage of Catholicism with the Aristotelian wisdom, to have set up a structure that would endure for ever and give a norm to our civilization.

In his great study of St. Thomas Aquinas, Belloc's friend G.K. Chesterton describes this "marriage of Catholicism with the Aristotelian wisdom":

The Thomist movement in metaphysics, like the Franciscan movement in morals and manners, was an enlargement and a liberation, it was emphatically a growth of Christian theology from within; it was emphatically not a shrinking of Christian theology under heathen or even human influences. The Franciscan was free to be a friar, instead of being bound to be a monk. But he was more of a Christian, more of a Catholic, even more of an ascetic. So the Thomist was free to be an Aristotelian, instead of being bound to be an Augustinian. But he was even more of a theologian; more of an orthodox theologian; more of a dogmatist, in having recovered through Aristotle the most defiant of all dogmas, the wedding of God with Man and therefore with Matter. Nobody can understand the greatness of the thirteenth century, who does not realise that it was a great growth of new things produced by a living thing. In that sense it was really bolder and freer than what we call the Renaissance, which was a resurrection of old things discovered in a dead thing. In that sense medievalism was not a Renascence, but rather a Nascence. It did not model its temples upon the tombs, or call up dead gods from Hades. It made an architecture as new as modern engineering; indeed it still remains the most modern architecture. Only it was followed at the Renaissance by a more antiquated architecture. In that sense the Renaissance might be called the Relapse. Whatever may be said of the Gothic and the Gospel according to St. Thomas, they were not a Relapse. It was a new thrust like the titanic thrust of Gothic engineering; and its strength was in a God who makes all things new. 

 In a word, St. Thomas was making Christendom more Christian in making it more Aristotelian. This is not a paradox but a plain truism, which can only be missed by those who may know what is meant by an Aristotelian, but have simply forgotten what is meant by a Christian. As compared with a Jew, a Moslem, a Buddhist, a Deist, or most obvious alternatives, a Christian means a man who believes that deity or sanctity has attached to matter or entered the world of the senses. Some modern writers, missing this simple point, have even talked as if the acceptance of Aristotle was a sort of concession to the Arabs; like a Modernist vicar making a concession to the Agnostics. They might as well say that the Crusades were a concession to the Arabs as say that Aquinas rescuing Aristotle from Averrhoes was a concession to the Arabs. The Crusaders wanted to recover the place where the body of Christ had been, because they believed, rightly or wrongly, that it was a Christian place. St. Thomas wanted to recover what was in essence the body of Christ itself; the sanctified body of the Son of Man which had become a miraculous medium between heaven and earth. And he wanted the body, and all its senses, because he believed, rightly or wrongly, that it was a Christian thing. It might be a humbler or homelier thing than the Platonic mind; that is why it was Christian. St. Thomas was, if you will, taking the lower road when he walked in the steps of Aristotle. So was God, when He worked in the workshop of Joseph.
To return to Belloc's views of Descartes and Pascal, Belloc sums them up thus:

. . . these two great men stand for the reaction upon Catholicism as a whole produced by the upheaval of the sixteenth century and early seventeenth century — all that confused movement which has been called the twin warring brothers, Reformation and Renaissance. And when we consider all the effect of them, the way in which Descartes has led to sceptical rationalism, Pascal to a contempt for doctrine and a sort of cloud over the mind in which men lost the Faith, the most remarkable thing still is that both men remained firmly of the Faith, lived in it and died in it. They both were living proofs that the Gates of Hell had not prevailed and that the Church had proved its power to survive. 

For my own part the two things that stand out most vividly in the case of either man are these: Of Descartes, that he had the humility, the faith and the devotion to make the pilgrimage to Loretto; of Pascal, the splendour of his death.

The Holy House of Loreto is in Italy and Descartes went there in 1623. Pascal suffered from great pains in his stomach for years. When he died on August 19, 1662 in Paris his last words were: "May God never abandon me." 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Belloc on Two Philosophers: Descartes and Pascal

Tomorrow, Anna Mitchell and I will conduct our penultimate discussion of Hilaire Belloc's Characters of the Reformation on the Son Rise Morning Show. This time, we'll look at his views of two philosophers: Rene Descartes and Blaise Pascal:

In the midst of these political figures. Kings and Statesmen and Soldiers, whom we have been considering in connection with the great religious struggle of the seventeenth century, we must turn for a moment to two men who had no political power. They were neither Soldiers nor Statesmen nor men of any hereditary position; but they influenced the mind of Europe so greatly that their indirect effect weighed more than the direct effect of others.

These two men stood to each other in time as might a father to a son. Descartes, nearly the contemporary of Cromwell, was born in 1596 and died in 1650. Pascal was twenty-seven years younger, but died only twelve years after Descartes in 1662. It is remarkable to note how both of them survived to see the settlement in the political and military fields of the great quarrel between the Reformation and the Catholic Church.

Since he included two philosophers among his Characters, I think Belloc should have profiled a couple of theologians, perhaps St. Robert Bellarmine or Reginald Cardinal Pole or someone from the School of Salamanca: Pole would have been a great choice to include in the Tudor section; Bellarmine in the Stuart era. Pole had a great role in the Church and in the restoration of Catholicism in England during Mary I's reign; Bellarmine was a great theologian, reformer, and argued against James I's doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings.

Belloc includes these two philosophers, however, because of their influence on philosophy in the modern era and how that influence has affected our culture:

These two men represent the effects upon the Catholic culture of two very great forces let loose by the Reformation, or at any rate let loose by the break-up of the old united Christian order in Europe. The first was Rationalism: the second may be called (I think with propriety) Emotionalism. Both men remained orthodox throughout their lives, each could claim that he was not only orthodox but strongly attached to the Catholic Church and all that the Catholic Church believes and teaches, yet from them proceeded results which stretched throughout the Catholic culture and shook its stability, while at the same time spreading far outside the boundaries of the culture into the Protestant culture and affecting the whole of European thought. 

 Of the two it was Descartes who did the most. He was undoubtedly the greater man — indeed, intellectually one of the greatest men Europe has ever produced. But negatively Pascal was also of high effect, because his example and the power of his word fostered that non-rational dependence upon emotion which is ultimately as disruptive of Catholic solidity as is Rationalism.

He compares their scientific and literary achievements:

Both men were great mathematicians. Descartes much the greater. Both men were remarkable writers, Pascal much the greater. From Pascal you may say comes the whole habit of clear modern prose writing; and from Descartes comes the whole business of analytical geometry and the theory of the calculi, differential and integral.

Belloc clearly appreciates what Descartes accomplished in mathematics but notes that his philosophical method has had a disastrous influence on modern culture:

Descartes approached the problem of the discovery of truth by a process of elimination. "What are we? Whence do we come? Whither do we go? What is the Universe and what are we therein ? " To answer these prime questions he began by throwing overboard everything which he felt he could not, in the new scientific temper of the time, affirm. And he reached the residuum that the only thing of which he was absolutely certain — the only thing which he could take as a first postulate, the only thing "known" whence he could proceed to discover the unknown, was his own existence.

That postulate was undoubtedly true, but it was the postulate of a skeptic, and it has acted ever since as a poison. For there is another thing of which we are also just as certain, really, as we are of our own existence — and that is the existence of things outside ourselves. There is no rational process by which the reality of the external universe can be discovered; all we know is that it can be confidently affirmed. Aristotle, who might be called reason itself; St. Thomas, whose whole process was that of beginning with a doubt, and examining all that there was to be said for that doubt before the denial of it and the corresponding certitude could be arrived at, both postulate this second truth. Not only am I, I, but that which is not myself is just as real as I am, and what is more, can be and is apprehended by myself. 

That is, like all true philosophy, common sense. Your plain man, who is made in the image of God and who, so long as his reason and conscience are not warped, is on the right lines, has no patience with any denial of it. The whole of human society takes it for granted and must take it for granted. The witness in a Court of Justice, the man con- ducting his own affairs, the simplest activities of daily life, takes for granted as absolutely certain, not only the external universe in which we live, but our own power of apprehending it. Descartes returned to the very extreme of the old Greek skepticism, and said, "No, we must begin with the prime certitude of our own existence; from which, no doubt, we can proceed to a second certitude that the external world exists. But we must not take it as a primal postulate." Therefore, it is from Descartes that the whole stream of modern skepticism flows. He built up a system carefully and accurately from so exiguous a beginning; it was like building a pyramid upside down, balanced upon a point, yet that system was stable and indeed on all its main lines it has stood for 300 years. It included the idea which most men still have of space, of the universe in three dimensions and three dimensions only, of the value of physical experiment and the certitude of our scientific conclusions therefrom. Of the certitude also of our power of measurement, upon which all modern physical science is built. The philosophy of Descartes remained stable and held the field because it was supported and continued by the rising flood of physical science. In some of his detailed conclusions he was fantastic, and would seem particularly fantastic in modern eyes; but his general spirit conquered the European mind and directed it right on into the memory of men now living. Indeed, no small part of our bewilderment, when we hear the doubts or questions of the latest physical science, is due to our being disturbed in what we thought to be our quite secure Cartesian philosophy; namely, that matter and spirit are quite distinct, and that all time and motion are referable to fixed standards — and so forth. But there is no denying Descartes' far-reaching influence.

Belloc notes that Pascal has a very different starting point from Descartes in his pursuit of truth:

Pascal started from the very other end from Descartes of the mental process ; not from a search for the last ultimate thing of which reason is certain, but from that which emo- tion most poignantly affirms. With Descartes it was, "I am sure of one thing — that I think." With Pascal it was, " I am sure of one thing — that I feel." Descartes began like a man pursuing a piece of research in history or chemistry; Pascal began like a man moved suddenly by a vision or a great love. The one would have told you that he had done nothing until he had begun to analyse — the other that he had not lived until he had been overwhelmed by a spiritual flood from within.

There were two occasions in Pascal's life in which he suffered or enjoyed that experience which is often called "conversion." Each confirmed the other, without either he would not have been what he was, and it was under the influence of intense personal feeling in the matter of religion that he began his famous quarrel with the Jesuits — which quarrel is, I am afraid, the main source of his reputation in the anti-Catholic world. For the attitude of the anti- Catholic world towards Pascal, and particularly the academic Protestant world, is something like this: — "The Jesuits are the quintessence of Catholicism. Pascal attacked the Jesuits. Therefore, although we are very sorry that he remained orthodox and was never excommunicated we feel that he was on our side."

Belloc describes the conflict between the Jansenists and the Jesuits and Pascal's role as the spokesman for the Jansenists in France. He notes that Pascal's literary legacy is the Pensees and the Lettres Provinciales:

It is strange that the literary and spiritual influence of Pascal should repose as it does upon such a very small body of matter. Apart from the Provinciales the only thing of his that really counts is a jumble of disjointed aphorisms which have had to be edited and re-edited to give them any cohesion, which even so have no unity, and to which the tide is generally given of the Pensees or "Thoughts" of Pascal. Two of his ideas at least were profound and of high value, quite apart from the merely aesthetic value of his power of the "Word." One of these was the somewhat whimsical but arresting conception of the "wager." It is not a rational conception, but it is calculated to make the sceptic think. It amounts virtually to this: — If the Christian revelation be not true, I lose nothing by accepting it. If it be true, I gain everything by accepting it. As against this, I for my part will at once advance a certain sentence of St. Paul's, to the effect that if we are wrong in our choice of the Christian revelation, then we are "of all men the most miserable."

The other and more valuable and what will, I think, prove the most permanent literary "find" of Pascal's was his famous paradox on the coincident greatness and littleness of man. He did not invent that idea of course; it is as old as human thought upon these things: Man is miserably weak, even physically; he is mortal, limited in all his powers, even those of the reason; subject to all manner of suffering and apparently unable to help himself, even where the path to a tolerable existence lies clear. But at the same time man is gifted with a mind which can conceive the universe, he is the child of God and in the image of God, all beauty is at his command, he can even in a sense create, he is vastly greater than anything else there is within our immediate experience, yet he is immeasurably less than what he knows he might be. He is at once despicable and awful; petty and supreme. That consideration on the contrasting and dual nature of man is perhaps the most fecund germ that can be planted in the soil of the mind — and Pascal planted it more surely and deeply than any other man in his brief statement.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Sir William Paulet, Willow Tree; St. John Ogilvie, Oak Tree

According to the History of Parliament online, Sir William Paulet always conformed to the religious practice and command of the King or Queen he served, and thus was able to adjust his religious beliefs to serve Henry VIII, Edward VI, (Lady Jane Grey/the Duke of Northumberland), Mary I, and Elizabeth I:

Paulet was named as executor of Henry VIII’s will, taking precedence after Archbishop Cranmer and the chancellor, and was one of the five Councillors to receive a bequest of £500. According to the testimony given by Secretary Paget as to the King’s intentions, he was also to have had lands and an earldom, but he had to wait for promotion in the peerage until after the overthrow of the Protector Somerset. He had already added extensively to his inheritance by grant and purchase [from the Dissolution of the Monasteries] and under Edward VI he obtained further lands in Dorset, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Middlesex, Somerset and Wiltshire, being one of the five major recipients of crown lands by gift. For a few months in 1547 he served as lord keeper of the great seal after the dismissal of Wriothesley and was holding the office when the first Parliament of the reign was summoned. Shortly after his appointment he was one of the seven Councillors who signed a request to the young King for a commission empowering the Council to wield full authority during the minority. He was an assiduous attendant at Council meetings, several of which were held at his house in London and at Basing in 1549 and 1552.9

. . . As befitted one who, in the words of Sir Robert Naunton†, was ‘always of the King’s religion, and always [a] zealous professor’, and despite his uncharacteristic vote against the Act of Uniformity in 1559, he had no difficulty in accommodating himself to the Elizabethan settlement. Although he refused to take the oath incorporated in the Act of Succession he remained in the forefront of national affairs until the summer of 1570, when apparently on account of ill-health he withdrew to Basing. He absented himself from the Parliament of 1571 and was excused attendance at the trial of the 4th Duke of Norfolk early in 1572.11

He benefited thus from the Dissolution of the Monasteries and the fall of Somerset, and survived the fall of Northumberland/Lady Jane Grey. Before that, he had received St. Thomas More's Chelsea estate. If Barbara Walters had asked him the infamous "What kind of tree are you?" question she asked Katherine Hepburn, he would have had the opposite answer, although he would have had to translate it for her: He was a willow tree not an oak:

Paulet died intestate on 10 Mar. 1572 at Basing and was buried there. He had spent lavishly on his building there and at Chelsea (where he had been granted Sir Thomas More’s house in 1536) and at his death he owed over £34,000 to the crown and some £12,000 to individuals. Several portraits of Paulet survive. According to Naunton, Paulet ascribed his retention of high office under four sovereigns to his ability to bend (Ortus sum ex salice, non ex quercu) and (Sir) Richard Morison saw in him one who had ‘a tongue fit for all times, with an obedience ready for as many new masters as can happen in his days’. But many men were as ready as Paulet to trim to Tudor winds of change, and it was another hostile critic, John Knox, who came nearer the truth when, speaking of those who governed for Edward VI, he asked, ‘Who could best dispatch business, that the rest of the Council might hawk and hunt, and take their pleasure? None like unto [Paulet]’.12

Compare him to St. John Ogilvie, SJ, who suffered and died on March 10, 1615. He stood firm like an oak tree and received a crown of martyrdom:

He is the only canonized martyr of the Scottish Reformation.

Born in Scotland in 1579 and raised as a Protestant, Ogilvie was sent abroad for studies and converted to Catholicism. He entered the Jesuit novitiate in Vienna in 1599 and was ordained to the priesthood in Paris in 1610.

Ogilvie returned to his native Scotland in 1613 and within a year was arrested in Glasgow. He spent many months in prison and was tortured, but he refused to denounce the pope’s supremacy. On March 10, 1615, he was tried for high treason, found guilty, and executed.

The year after his death, Ogilvie's Relatio, his own account of his arrest, imprisonment, and torture that he wrote in prison, was printed in various cities in Europe and circulated secretly in England and Scotland.

He was beatified in 1929 and canonized in Rome in 1976.

Prayer to St. John Ogilvie, SJ
(from the Jesuits in Britain)

St. John Ogilvie, by your devotion to Christ
you held fast to the faith, even unto martyrdom.
With the grace of God, may I have a loving heart in the midst of trials.
May I, like you, “be of good cheer” and trust in the love of God.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Oxbridge and the Stamford Oath

William Whyte writes for History Today on the monopoly Oxford and Cambridge held on university education in England from the fourteenth to the nineteenth century:

From 1334 onwards, graduates of Oxford and Cambridge were required to swear an oath that they would not give lectures outside these two English universities. It was a prohibition occasioned by the secession in 1333 of men from Oxford to the little Lincolnshire town of Stamford. They were escaping the violence and chaos which often attended medieval university life – the frequent battles between students, and between students and other communities within the town – the same conditions, in fact, which had led an earlier generation of scholars to up sticks and leave Oxford for Cambridge. But their action now threatened both universities, and so the Stamford experiment had to be suppressed. The sheriff of Lincoln, the lord chancellor, even the king, Edward III, were all called into play and the result became known as the ‘Stamford Oath’; an oath which Oxford and Cambridge graduates continued to swear until 1827. 

England was thus different than countries on the European Continent or even than Scotland:

This was in sharp contrast to the European experience. Just as Oxford and Cambridge were establishing and policing their unique right to produce graduates, ever growing numbers of universities were being founded across the Continent. In the 14th century new institutions appeared in towns from Pisa to Prague; from Kraków to Cahors. In the years that followed, the gap in numbers between English universities and those on the Continent grew even greater, with over 100 founded or refounded in Europe after 1500. Oxford and Cambridge remained the only universities in England. Indeed . . . in the mid-17th century, universities were springing up in such unlikely places as the small towns of Prešov in Slovakia and Nijmegen in the Netherlands. The English experience was also very unlike that of the Scots, who acquired five universities between 1451, when Glasgow opened, and 1582, when Edinburgh was established.

Whyte explains that religion played a role:

Just as the two universities wanted to control the supply of teachers and students, so the English Church and state wanted to control the universities. Universities could be – indeed, were – the source of dangerous heresies, where people learnt to think the wrong things. Oxford gave birth to the reforming, proto-Protestant Lollard movement in the 14th century. Cambridge was home to an alarming nest of evangelicals – humanist-inspired converts to church reform like the martyrs Robert Barnes (c.1495-1540) and Thomas Bilney (1495-1531) – 200 years later. With only two universities it was easier to control theological debate and even to use one of the institutions to oversee the other. It is no coincidence that the Cambridge-educated bishops Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, together with the Cambridge-educated archbishop Thomas Cranmer, were sent to loyalist, Catholic Oxford to be tried and burnt in the 1550s.

This control was also used to remove Catholics from the universities and to restrict Protestant dissenters from attending them: Anglicans removed Puritans and Puritans removed Anglicans. Two years before the Catholic Emancipation Act passed in 1829, which opened the way for Catholics to attend Oxford or Cambridge again after a few centuries--although receiving a degree would be difficult since graduates still had to swear an oath to uphold the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England--the Stamford Oath was disavowed. 

Whyte describes why:

If the existence of this alliance helps explain why Oxbridge was successful in blocking any rivals, then the breakdown in this relationship also helps account for what happened next. The 1820s were a period of acute crisis for Church, state and the two universities alike. The decision to grant full civil liberties to Dissenters in 1828 and then to Roman Catholics in 1829 reflected – and helped enact – a breakdown in the exclusive link between the Church of England and the government. It also called into question the privileged position of Oxford and Cambridge. Still redoubts of Anglican orthodoxy, still loyal to the confessional state, they both looked, as the poet and critic Matthew Arnold would later observe of Oxford, homes ‘of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names, and impossible loyalties’.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Starting Chesterton's "Heretics"

Tomorrow night our Wichita area Chesterton group will start another book by Chesterton: the work that led to his great masterpiece, Orthodoxy: Heretics! On the American Chesterton Society website, Dale Ahlquist comments on this 1905 work:

This book is not an attack but a defense, a defense of the ancient truths that are under attack by modern heretics. Chesterton claims to have gained a deeper appreciation of the Christian Faith through the simple exercise of defending it. He says he never realized the great philosophic common sense of Christianity until the anti-Christian writers pointed it to him.

Heresy, it turns out, is usually a distinct lack of common sense. A heresy is at best a half-truth, but usually even less than that. A heresy is a fragment of the truth that is exaggerated at the expense of the rest of the truth. The modern world praises science and hygiene and progress. These are all very well and good, but they have been elevated at the expense of larger truths, such as faith and tradition and permanent ideals.

In this book, Chesterton takes on George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, and other “heretics” whose names may not be familiar, even if their “heresies” are still exceedingly familiar. The original objection to Heretics, which in fact compelled Chesterton to write Orthodoxy, is that his own criticisms of others were not to be taken seriously unless Chesterton himself declared what he stood for. This is perhaps why Heretics is considered the negative for which Orthodoxy is the positive. But any reasonable reader can see that Chesterton’s criticisms are a defense of a well-defined position. By criticizing moral and artistic relativism, he is defending identifiable and absolute standards. By criticizing egoism and the cult of success, he is defending humility. By criticizing skepticism, morbidity and muddle-headedness, he is defending faith, hope, and clarity.

Clarity. The truth which Chesterton is defending should be obvious. But because Chesterton has to defend it, it obviously isn’t obvious. The heretics have obscured the truth, they have distracted us, they have won us over with lies. The first lie is that truth doesn’t matter.

Chesterton begins his study of modern heresies and those who defend them by noting that heretics "nowadays" are different than those of the past: they want to be known as heretics!--they don't want their teaching to be considered orthodox at all. After all, Arius thought that he was right about the Person of Jesus Christ; he thought he was orthodox--had the right teaching--and that St. Athanasius was wrong. That's why St. Athanasius was forced into exile over and over again. To Arius and his followers, St. Athanasius was the heretic!

Now, no one wants to be orthodox:

Nothing more strangely indicates an enormous and silent evil of modern society than the extraordinary use which is made nowadays of the word "orthodox." In former days the heretic was proud of not being a heretic. It was the kingdoms of the world and the police and the judges who were heretics. He was orthodox. He had no pride in having rebelled against them; they had rebelled against him. The armies with their cruel security, the kings with their cold faces, the decorous processes of State, the reasonable processes of law—all these like sheep had gone astray. The man was proud of being orthodox, was proud of being right. If he stood alone in a howling wilderness he was more than a man; he was a church. He was the centre of the universe; it was round him that the stars swung. All the tortures torn out of forgotten hells could not make him admit that he was heretical. But a few modern phrases have made him boast of it. He says, with a conscious laugh, "I suppose I am very heretical," and looks round for applause. The word "heresy" not only means no longer being wrong; it practically means being clear-headed and courageous. The word "orthodoxy" not only no longer means being right; it practically means being wrong. All this can mean one thing, and one thing only. It means that people care less for whether they are philosophically right. For obviously a man ought to confess himself crazy before he confesses himself heretical. The Bohemian, with a red tie, ought to pique himself on his orthodoxy. The dynamiter, laying a bomb, ought to feel that, whatever else he is, at least he is orthodox.

It is foolish, generally speaking, for a philosopher to set fire to another philosopher in Smithfield Market because they do not agree in their theory of the universe. That was done very frequently in the last decadence of the Middle Ages, and it failed altogether in its object. But there is one thing that is infinitely more absurd and unpractical than burning a man for his philosophy. This is the habit of saying that his philosophy does not matter, and this is done universally in the twentieth century, in the decadence of the great revolutionary period. General theories are everywhere contemned; the doctrine of the Rights of Man is dismissed with the doctrine of the Fall of Man. Atheism itself is too theological for us to-day. Revolution itself is too much of a system; liberty itself is too much of a restraint. We will have no generalizations. Mr. Bernard Shaw has put the view in a perfect epigram: "The golden rule is that there is no golden rule." We are more and more to discuss details in art, politics, literature. A man's opinion on tramcars matters; his opinion on Botticelli matters; his opinion on all things does not matter. He may turn over and explore a million objects, but he must not find that strange object, the universe; for if he does he will have a religion, and be lost. Everything matters—except everything.

I have heard people say, "heretical though it might be to say" and then espouse something as a truth. Plato would say that they are modern sophists; they have taken nominalism to such an extreme that their statements mean nothing--nothing but power. Chesterton is pointing out, throughout this book in some way, the abuse of language in modern culture, language abused because it does not serve truth but only power and control.

When Chesterton "takes on" George Bernard Shaw he points out some problems with Shaw's vision:

For the truth is that Mr. Shaw has never seen things as they really are. If he had he would have fallen on his knees before them. He has always had a secret ideal that has withered all the things of this world. He has all the time been silently comparing humanity with something that was not human, with a monster from Mars, with the Wise Man of the Stoics, with the Economic Man of the Fabians, with Julius Caesar, with Siegfried, with the Superman. Now, to have this inner and merciless standard may be a very good thing, or a very bad one, it may be excellent or unfortunate, but it is not seeing things as they are. It is not seeing things as they are to think first of a Briareus with a hundred hands, and then call every man a cripple for only having two. It is not seeing things as they are to start with a vision of Argus with his hundred eyes, and then jeer at every man with two eyes as if he had only one. And it is not seeing things as they are to imagine a demigod of infinite mental clarity, who may or may not appear in the latter days of the earth, and then to see all men as idiots. And this is what Mr. Shaw has always in some degree done. When we really see men as they are, we do not criticise, but worship; and very rightly. For a monster with mysterious eyes and miraculous thumbs, with strange dreams in his skull, and a queer tenderness for this place or that baby, is truly a wonderful and unnerving matter. It is only the quite arbitrary and priggish habit of comparison with something else which makes it possible to be at our ease in front of him. A sentiment of superiority keeps us cool and practical; the mere facts would make, our knees knock under as with religious fear. It is the fact that every instant of conscious life is an unimaginable prodigy. It is the fact that every face in the street has the incredible unexpectedness of a fairy-tale. The thing which prevents a man from realizing this is not any clear-sightedness or experience, it is simply a habit of pedantic and fastidious comparisons between one thing and another. Mr. Shaw, on the practical side perhaps the most humane man alive, is in this sense inhumane. He has even been infected to some extent with the primary intellectual weakness of his new master, Nietzsche, the strange notion that the greater and stronger a man was the more he would despise other things. The greater and stronger a man is the more he would be inclined to prostrate himself before a periwinkle. That Mr. Shaw keeps a lifted head and a contemptuous face before the colossal panorama of empires and civilizations, this does not in itself convince one that he sees things as they are. I should be most effectively convinced that he did if I found him staring with religious astonishment at his own feet. "What are those two beautiful and industrious beings," I can imagine him murmuring to himself, "whom I see everywhere, serving me I know not why? What fairy godmother bade them come trotting out of elfland when I was born? What god of the borderland, what barbaric god of legs, must I propitiate with fire and wine, lest they run away with me?"

The truth is, that all genuine appreciation rests on a certain mystery of humility and almost of darkness. The man who said, "Blessed is he that expecteth nothing, for he shall not be disappointed," put the eulogy quite inadequately and even falsely. The truth "Blessed is he that expecteth nothing, for he shall be gloriously surprised." The man who expects nothing sees redder roses than common men can see, and greener grass, and a more startling sun. Blessed is he that expecteth nothing, for he shall possess the cities and the mountains; blessed is the meek, for he shall inherit the earth. Until we realize that things might not be we cannot realize that things are. Until we see the background of darkness we cannot admire the light as a single and created thing. As soon as we have seen that darkness, all light is lightening, sudden, blinding, and divine. Until we picture nonentity we underrate the victory of God, and can realize none of the trophies of His ancient war. It is one of the million wild jests of truth that we know nothing until we know nothing.

Now this is, I say deliberately, the only defect in the greatness of Mr. Shaw, the only answer to his claim to be a great man, that he is not easily pleased. He is an almost solitary exception to the general and essential maxim, that little things please great minds. And from this absence of that most uproarious of all things, humility, comes incidentally the peculiar insistence on the Superman. After belabouring a great many people for a great many years for being unprogressive, Mr. Shaw has discovered, with characteristic sense, that it is very doubtful whether any existing human being with two legs can be progressive at all. Having come to doubt whether humanity can be combined with progress, most people, easily pleased, would have elected to abandon progress and remain with humanity. Mr. Shaw, not being easily pleased, decides to throw over humanity with all its limitations and go in for progress for its own sake. If man, as we know him, is incapable of the philosophy of progress, Mr. Shaw asks, not for a new kind of philosophy, but for a new kind of man. It is rather as if a nurse had tried a rather bitter food for some years on a baby, and on discovering that it was not suitable, should not throw away the food and ask for a new food, but throw the baby out of window, and ask for a new baby. Mr. Shaw cannot understand that the thing which is valuable and lovable in our eyes is man—the old beer-drinking, creed-making, fighting, failing, sensual, respectable man. And the things that have been founded on this creature immortally remain; the things that have been founded on the fancy of the Superman have died with the dying civilizations which alone have given them birth. When Christ at a symbolic moment was establishing His great society, He chose for its corner-stone neither the brilliant Paul nor the mystic John, but a shuffler, a snob a coward—in a word, a man. And upon this rock He has built His Church, and the gates of Hell have not prevailed against it. All the empires and the kingdoms have failed, because of this inherent and continual weakness, that they were founded by strong men and upon strong men. But this one thing, the historic Christian Church, was founded on a weak man, and for that reason it is indestructible. For no chain is stronger than its weakest link.

Our Chesterton group will gather on the second floor of Eighth Day Books around 6:30 p.m. and discuss the first several chapters. Lenten appropriate refreshments will be served; that means: no cake!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Blesseds Christopher Bales, Nicholas Horner, and Alexander Blake

Blessed Christopher Bales, priest and martyr, and companions (laymen who assisted him) Blessed Alexander Blake, and Blessed Nicholas Horner, were all executed on March 4, 1590 at three different sites in London. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, his career as a missionary priest in England was brief:
Priest and martyr, b. at Coniscliffe near Darlington, County Durham, England, about 1564; executed 4 March, 1590. He entered the English College at Rome, 1 October, 1583, but owing to ill-health was sent to the College at Reims, where he was ordained 28 March, 1587. Sent to England 2 November, 1588, he was soon arrested, racked, and tortured by Topcliffe, and hung up by the hands for twenty-four hours at a time; he bore all most patiently. At length he was tried and condemned for high treason, on the charge of having been ordained beyond seas and coming to England to exercise his office. He asked Judge Anderson whether St. Augustine, Apostle of the English, was also a traitor. The judge said no, but that the act had since been made treason by law. He suffered 4 March, 1590, "about Easter", in Fleet Street opposite Fetter Lane. On the gibbet was set a placard: "For treason and favouring foreign invasion". He spoke to the people from the ladder, showing them that his only "treason" was his priesthood. On the same day Venerable Nicholas Horner suffered in Smithfield for having made Bales a jerkin, and Venerable Alexander Blake in Gray's Inn Lane for lodging him in his house.

In this autobiography, Father John Gerard, SJ, mentions Father Bales and another priest from Rheims, Father George Beesley, as being among those coming with him and Father Edward Oldcorne, noting that three of them suffered martyrdom while he did not:

"Two priests from Rheims joined us, as our former companions preferred to take time before they faced the dangers which awaited them on the opposite shores. The ship then set sail with four priests on board, a goodly cargo indeed, had not my unworthiness deprived me of the crown, for all those other three suffered martyrdom for the faith. The two priests were soon taken, and being in a short space made perfect, they fulfilled a long time. Their names were Christopher Bales and George Beesley, but my companion, the blessed Father Oldcorne, spent eighteen years of toil and labour in the Lord's vineyard, and watered it at length with his blood."

The Catholic Encyclopedia has this information on Blessed Nicholas Horner:

Layman and martyr, born at Grantley, Yorkshire, England, date of birth unknown; died at Smithfield, 4 March, 1590. He appears to have been following the calling of a tailor in London, when he was arrested on the charge of harbouring Catholic priests. He was confined for a long time in a damp and noisome cell, where he contracted blood poisoning in one leg, which it became necessary to amputate. It is said that during this operation Horner was favoured with a vision, which acted as an anodyne to his sufferings. He was afterwards liberated, but when he was again found to be harbouring priests he was convicted of felony, and as he refused to conform to the public worship of the Church by law established, was condemned. On the eve of his execution, he had a vision of a crown of glory hanging over his head, which filled him with courage to face the ordeal of the next day. The story of this vision was told by him to a friend, who in turn transmitted it by letter to Father Robert Southwell S.J., 18 March, 1590. Horner was hanged, drawn and quartered because he had relieved and assisted Christopher Bales, seminary priest and martyr, b. at Cunsley, Durham, 1564, d. on the Scaffold at Fetter Lane, London 4 March, 1590.
Father Bales and his lay companions were  beatified on December 15 in 1929 by Pope Pius XI.

I posted about the map of the martyrs that Graeme Garvey created a few days ago: it's featured on the The Catholic Herald online now, with some details about how he did it!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Mapping the Martyrs

A gentleman from Yorkshire, Graeme Garvey, who has written for the St. Austin Review and published a website on World War I veterans, among his other projects, sent me this link to a map showing the locations of the births and deaths of the English and Welsh martyrs, Venerable, Blessed, and Canonized.

He has noted the martyrs from Yorkshire, Lancashire, and other locations--those not canonized from the Pilgrimage of Grace--and those martyred in London at various sites. At the bottom of the map he provides a list of the martyrs' known birthplace by county.

Not only that, but he has linked on-line sources for each martyr, including some from this blog.

This is a tremendous resource, worthy of wide distribution. My only minor criticism is that St. Oliver Plunkett, tried, convicted, and martyred in London, should have been on the map, even though he was canonized separately.

It's always great to see devotion to these great heroes of the faith--Mary's Dowry productions, the Catholic Truth Society publications, and now this great map!

Holy Catholic Martyrs of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, pray for us!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Belloc on Laud and Cromwell, Anglo-Catholics and Puritans

Tomorrow on the Son Rise Morning Show Anna Mitchell and I will continue our discussion of Hilaire Belloc's Characters of the Reformation, returning to England tomorrow after visiting the Holy Roman Empire and France the past couple of episodes. Our subjects this week are William Laud and Oliver Cromwell, so we are dealing with the reign of Charles I and the English Civil War. Belloc is also back to analyzing aspects of his historical figure's personality and character. With High Church Archbishop of Canterbury William Laud, Belloc is also ready to comment on contemporary Anglo-Catholicism and its adherents:

Laud was the Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury under Charles I of England. He belonged to that generation which was born somewhat before the year 1600 and which was old by the middle of the seventeenth century — that is, by the time that each party in the great religious quarrel of the Reformation was dimly appreciating that the battle was a drawn one, and that there could not be a complete victory on either side. 

It will be remembered that the middle of the seventeenth century, and more particularly the date 1648 (The Treaties of Westphalia), marks that moment of exhaustion on the two sides. After it, what used to be united Christendom was permanently divided into the two camps of the Catholic and Protestant cultures, the boundaries of which have not appreciably changed from that day to this. Laud, as Archbishop of Canterbury, was the principal figure in English official Protestantism; that is, in the new establishment set up by William Cecil, and known as "The Church of England" in the critical period when the conflict was being decided. He was put to death by the English revolutionaries a little before the general settlement just mentioned; and he had begun his characteristic activities less than twenty years after the beginning of the century. 

His personality is most interesting. He was of the middle ranks of society, with no special advantages of birth, and gained public attention wholly through his own energy and character. That energy was intense and never failed him to the end; it was as great in his last days as in his first and it animated a very small body — for he was almost a dwarf in size. His volume of work and correspondence was enormous, his power of attention to detail was equally great, and he followed a fixed clear policy with great chances of success, which was only defeated by the rise of a general rebellion against the English Royal Government, in which his own activities and office were included.

The importance of Laud in any study of the great religious quarrel and its unsatisfactory drawn settlement in the seventeenth century is considerable, and it lies in this: he was an early example of how the great Catholic recovery which had marked the end of the sixteenth century reacted upon the Protestant world. But at the same time Laud is a still more striking example of the way in which the Reformation had made the Protestant attitude of mind inescapable for those who had broken away from Catholic unity. In other words, the interest of his career lies in this — that in spite of certain sympathies with Catholic tradition and in spite of their recovering certain sides of the general European culture, the Protestants throughout Europe and even in England (where Catholicism was still so strong), were condemned to be the victims of the original violent rebellion which had taken place in their fathers' time.

And the issue is of course, the authority of the Pope. Belloc notes that Laud and others wanted Christian unity but could not accept one authority in the Church: the Vicar of Christ (whom they thought of as "an Italian priest" at worst, the bishop of Rome at best):

Laud was the chief and leader of those who had come to deplore the losses inflicted by the Reformation and the wounds which it had inflicted upon normal human habit. He was the leader and representative of those who feared and disliked Puritanism as a moral disease. He had sympathy with the natural and excellent use of images in worship. One of the counts in the indictment against him on which he was put to death was his having put up a statue of Our Lady and the Holy Child, which one may still see standing above the main door of the University Church of Oxford (St. Mary's). He and those like him, who were now becoming numerous in the English Established Protestant Church, not only felt a sentimental attraction towards the lovely and human externals of Catholic worship, but were also inclined — one cannot use a stronger word, but at any rate inclined — to consider the fullness of Catholic doctrine in nearly all points. 

They inclined (as their descendants, the High Churchmen, do to-day) to an explanation of the mystery of the Eucharist more and more approximating to the truth. They inclined to Sacramental Penance and the Sacramental view of religion in general. They were particularly strong upon the necessity of a hierarchy and upon what they hoped was in their own case and what they admitted in the case of Catholics to be, the Apostolic Succession. They desired to regard their clergy as priests and some of them indeed would come to say even "sacrificing priests." But with all this they remained Protestant. They remained (though they would not have admitted it) thoroughly anti-Catholic, because they rejected that one part of Catholic doctrine which is its essential — the combination of unity and authority. The unity of the visible Church and its invincible authority were repugnant to their growing nationalism, and those who preserved such an attitude of mind were just as much the enemies of Catholicism as the most rabid Puritan could be, or the most complete agnostic. 

Laud himself used a phrase which has become famous in this regard: he said that he could not consider reunion "with Rome as she now is." Now that phrase was not only a rejection of unity, but by its wording it implied that there was no united visible Church of God on earth. The use of the word "Rome*' in this connection emphasized and was intended to emphasize the doctrine that "the Church of Rome hath erred" — which inevitably includes the doctrine that "all the Churches [as the phrase goes] had erred"; and that therefore there was no united visible infallible Church.

Analyzing Laud's legacy after his execution by Parliament, Belloc comments:

Laud became the target for a double attack. He had repressed Puritanism in religion, he had supported personal monarchy in politics. His person was seized by the rebels, he was imprisoned, and at last they put him to death.

Such a career and such a termination to it created what may be called "The Legacy of Laud." Politically that legacy came to nothing. The victory of the wealthier classes in England was so complete and the corresponding defeat of the monarchy so thorough that the very idea of government by a King died out in about half a century after Laud's death. One long life-time after his beheading on Tower Hill the English throne was filled by a puppet monarch who was not even allowed to attend the governing Council of the realm. And from that day onwards England has been governed by the great land-owners and by the money- dealers of the City of London. . . .

But the legacy of Laud in ecclesiastical matters had more vitality. It fell very low during the eighteenth century, but it was revived before the end of that century . . . There followed, in the same lifetime, the Tractarian Movement, and there now exists in greater force than has hitherto been known, a Laudian spirit acting in varying degrees throughout one great section of the English Protestant Establishment. The more devoted followers of that spirit go far beyond Laud himself in their imitation of Catholicism, and even in the attempt to recover the spirit of that from which they are separated; a considerable minority express themselves openly in favour of that reunion with the Catholic Church which Laud himself rejected.

Then Belloc turns to Oliver Cromwell, military leader, regicide, and Lord Protector. Like St. Thomas More and Thomas Cromwell before them, William Laud and Oliver Cromwell have something in common: they both lost their heads. The timing was just different! Cromwell's body was exhumed during the reign of Charles II and he was "executed". His head was displayed on a pole in front of Westminster Hall until 1685 (Charles II's father had been tried by Parliament in Westminster Hall.)

After reviewing the religious doctrines of Calvinism, Belloc comments on Cromwell and his Puritanism:

The way in which Cromwell was typical of the whole Calvinist business is nowhere better seen than in his attitude towards the old religion which this new religion had set out to kill — that is, his attitude towards Catholicism. Catholicism was for him the very spirit of evil, to destroy which from off the face of the earth seemed to him the highest of the duties lying to his hand insofar as he could fulfil it. He could fulfil it to a considerable degree in this one Province of Europe, the British Isles, when he had achieved despotic power. And his intense fanaticism on this point appears especially in his treatment of Ireland. For the rest and in general, Cromwell was the typical figure of what is called Puritanism. 

Puritanism is a particular form and degree of Protestantism which has specially flourished in England, Scotland and Wales, but of which there were wide areas throughout the Protestant world, notably in Scandinavia and in Holland. To be a Puritan is almost exactly the same as to be what the old world used to call a Manichaean. The Puritan and the Manichee have the same attitude towards the universe; their creeds work out to the same moral and social practice. But there is one doctrinal difference between them, for while the Manichee believes in an evil principle which works side by side with and is equal to the principle of good in the universe, the Puritan, proceeding from Calvin and therefore only admitting one will in the universe, makes both evil and good combine in the same awful God who permits, and in a sense wills, evil, and particularly the sufferings of man.

Belloc picks up his common theme, that the English Reformation had led to the creation of new wealth:

The accidents by which Oliver Cromwell became the typical figure of English Protestantism in its extreme or Puritanical form were these: 

He was a cadet of one of those millionaire families who had gained their enormous wealth out of the wreck of the monasteries during the period of the Reformation. His father, of whom he was the only surviving son, was himself the only son of the enormously wealthy Sir Henry Cromwell, and Henry was the son of Richard Cromwell, nephew of Thomas Cromwell, the man who dissolved the monasteries under Henry VIII. Richard Cromwell's real name was Richard Williams. He was nephew to Thomas because his mother had been Thomas Cromwell's sister, his mother having married a tavern-keeper in Putney, near London, whose name was Williams. Richard took on his important relative's name, but both he and those who succeeded him had to use the name Williams for legal purposes, and when his great-grandson, Oliver, lay in state, the title "Oliver Cromwell, alias Williams," was embroidered on the half- royal hangings which draped the bed. . . .

He had a genius for forming and leading cavalry. No one suspected it, least of all himself, until the opportunity came which made it manifest. Cromwell was already in his forty-third year when the War broke out. He had barely entered his forty-fifth when it was clear he would become the principal military figure. He was installed the head of the victorious army by the time that he was forty-eight, and in his fiftieth year it was he who plotted for and achieved the death of King Charles. He proceeded to the conquest of Ireland, a task which he accomplished with horrible cruelty and as a result of which he dispossessed nineteen-twentieths of the Irish nation, confiscating their land wholesale. He intended to destroy the Catholic Church altogether in that country. He thought that he had achieved that end before he died; but there he was mistaken.

Nevertheless, Cromwell's success and his Protectorate were decisive in the process of establishing Protestantism in England:

All that political experiment of an English military republic under a "Protector" was ephemeral. It was bound to break down and did so within two years of Cromwell's death. He died on the third of September, 1658, and the dead King's son, young Charles, returned and was crowned Charles II in the Spring of 1660. Nevertheless, that for which Cromwell stood had, in effect, conquered. 

Those who retained Catholic principles and inclinations in England were still very numerous; when he died they were still more than a quarter of the population. In Ireland, in spite of massacre and wholesale robbery the great Catholic mass stood firm, and there at least seven-eighths of the people retained their religion in spite of the conquest; but the Civil War had completed both in Britain and in Ireland that long process of Catholic impoverishment and Protestant enrichment which had begun with the Dissolution of the Monasteries more than a hundred years before and had been continued with the Irish confiscations under Elizabeth and completed with the enormous fines levied upon all those landowners in England who stood out boldly and openly proclaimed themselves Catholic. 

Further, the victory of those for whom Cromwell stood and of whom he was the most conspicuous leader was the virtual end of the monarchy, although kingship had come back amid universal rejoicing before young Charles had been crowned at Westminster and all the rest of it. The great landowners and the great merchants, acting through the House of Commons and the House of Lords, which they formed, took over the government in England and have retained it ever since. Further, after that episode there could be no question of the Catholic Faith returning in any strength. It might have survived in a large fraction of the people, but it could never again mould the general spirit of England. 

Oliver Cromwell, therefore, is not only the chief Puritan figure at the decisive moment, the seventeenth century, when the Protestant and Catholic separated finally and agreed to call it a drawn battle; he is also the figure who marks the turning point in the transformation of England from a Catholic to a Protestant country. The process was not completed under him. Catholicism largely survived in England till it received its death blow there in 1688. But by the time of his death the Protestant character of England as a whole was firmly fixed.