Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Mystery of Mark Twain's "Joan of Arc"

Dr. Kelly Scott Franklin of Hillsdale College writes for The Catholic World Report about Mark Twain's devotion to St. Joan of Arc and the novel he wrote about her:

For Twain, part of Joan’s genius lies in her simple faith in God. Confident in His power to overcome all obstacles, Joan embraces His call. “I am enlisted,” she says, “I will not turn back, God helping me, till the English grip is loosed from the throat of France.” And obstacles there will be, for Joan faces ineptitude, opposition, and even deception from within the ranks of her own army.

But Twain also seems drawn to Joan’s miraculous gifts. Although a literary Realist and a religious skeptic, the author nonetheless treats all of Joan’s visions and prophecies with remarkable seriousness. Joan predicts that a mysterious sword will be found buried behind the altar of a church. She prophesies her victories, and even when she will be wounded in battle. . . .

Twain glories in Joan’s simple intelligence and wisdom, as she calmly faces her interrogators. Her persecutors do everything they can to discredit and condemn the Maid as a heretic or a witch. They ask her about her divine calling, her miraculous “Voices,” about her choice of male attire. They threaten her with the rack. They deny her Holy Communion. But Joan insists upon her visions and her mission. Violating the privacy of her conscience and seeking to draw her into presumption, one of her accusers asks her if she is in the state of Grace. Twain records Joan’s “immortal answer” in italics: “If I be not in a state of Grace, I pray God place me in it; if I be in it, I pray God keep me so.”

But in the end, her enemies condemn her to death. At her place of execution, she kneels to pray for the French king. And then Twain’s little Maid of Orleans is given over to the flames of the stake, until the eternal flame of God’s Love receives her forever.

Mark Twain was still alive when the Church beatified Joan of Arc in 1909. To a certain extent, his novel remains a puzzling act of devotion from a complicated man. For the great American author, there was no one like St. Joan. He marveled at her confidence in God’s Will, her courage, her simplicity. And in her he saw an example for all time. We can hear Twain’s own voice in the words of his narrator describing Joan: “It took six thousand years to produce her; her like will not be seen in the earth again in fifty thousand. Such is my opinion.”

Please read the rest there

It is a wonderful novel; somehow, she inspired him with such devotion that he wrote something completely outside himself and beyond himself.

Today is the feast of the Blessed Carmelite Martyrs of Compiegne! St. Joan of Arc, pray for us! Blessed Martyrs of Compiegne, pray for us!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Newman on Justification

Father Benjamin Sawyer presented a wonderful paper Friday afternoon at the Florovsky Week:

IN HIS Lectures on the Doctrine of Justification (1838), John Henry Newman seeks to discover the essence of the gift of justification. While the Protestant perspective focuses on God’s external declaration of justice and describes faith as the essence of man’s righteousness, the Roman position, in the years subsequent to the Council of Trent, focuses on the inherent gift of righteousness that inwardly renews him. The genius of Newman lies in recognizing the limits of each of these positions for not having gone to the heart of the matter. God’s counting man as righteous is not a mere declaration, but a declaration that effects what it signifies, thus making him righteous by the reception of an inward gift of the Holy Spirit. Newman places a clear priority on the gift of uncreated grace, the inward gift of the Holy Spirit through which man participates in the sonship of Christ. This uncreated, divine indwelling is the source of both faith and charity and realizes man’s spiritual renewal.

This paper will attempt to demonstrate that John Henry Newman’s biblical-patristic theological method allowed him to rediscover and articulate the doctrine of divine indwelling, previously overlooked in the years after Trent in Catholic-Protestant debate. Newman’s method of doing theology is rooted in a return to the inexhaustible source of divine revelation itself, to the Scriptures as the soul of theology, and to the patristic sources. Newman sought to contemplate the Scriptures in the heart of the Church with the same Spirit possessed by the ancient Fathers, the same Spirit who continually animates and guides the Church in all ages and places. It was in drinking from the source of Scripture and the Fathers that Newman came to discover the mysterious truth of God, who thirsts to make his dwelling in man.

Father Sawyer's paper reminded me why Newman is so wonderful: he always finds the third way. Not just to be creative or original, but to make distinctions that neither extreme makes. In this example, it's not either justification by faith (the Protestant view) or justification by renewal (the classic Catholic view based upon the Council of Trent) but the indwelling of the Holy Trinity. Thus, it's not "Either/Or" or "Neither/Or": it's both. The Holy Trinity, dwelling within the soul of the Christian, is the source of both the faith and the renewal, of the justification and the sanctification of the believer. Since Newman loved the Fathers of the Church so much, especially the Alexandrian Fathers, and most especially St. Athanasius of Alexandria, he is an important figure for the Eighth Day Institute with its emphasis on seeing in the Fathers a cloud of witnesses that Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants may rely upon in an ongoing ressourcement of ecumenical dialogue.

Friday, July 13, 2018

166 Years Ago Today at St. Mary's

Just a reminder that Anna Mitchell will replay our interview discussing Newman's "Second Spring" sermon during the EWTN hour of the Son Rise Morning Show this morning. That's sometime between 5:00 and 6:00 a.m. Central (6:00 and 7:00 a.m. Eastern). The podcast will also be available on the show website.

Also, please check my blog site on the National Catholic Register, which will be updated with an article I submitted that tells the story of that sermon and the context, as Anna and I discussed:

Father John Henry Newman of the Congregation of the Oratory gave his sermon at the Mass of the Holy Spirit celebrated on July 13—166 years ago today. It moved some, especially Cardinal Wiseman, to tears, as Newman described the death and rebirth of Catholicism in England.

The Winter is Now Past; The Coming of a Second Spring

Newman’s sermon exemplifies what G.K. Chesterton noted in The Everlasting Man: “Christianity has died many times and risen again; for it had a God who knew the way out of the grave.” In 1829, Catholics had at last been accorded their full rights as citizens and loyal subjects, able to worship freely, pursue their vocations and their careers, vote and hold office—everything but attend the great centers of learning, Oxford and Cambridge. In 1850, Pope Pius IX had restored the hierarchy in England with the Papal Bull Universalis Ecclesiae.

As Newman hardly needed to remind Cardinal Wiseman and the other bishops, this restoration had shocked Protestant England. It was one thing for individual Catholics to be free to practice their faith; it was another thing for an organized, structured Catholic hierarchy to start building, educating, and growing the Catholic Church in England. 

Queen Victoria’s government reacted by calling the restoration an act of “papal aggression”; there were anti-Catholic riots; Parliament passed a law called the Ecclesiastical Titles Act of 1851 which declared it illegal for the new Catholic bishops to use the name "of any city, town or place, or of any territory or district (under any designation or description whatsoever), in the United Kingdom" in their titles. This act was never enforced and was repealed twenty years later. It was the last gasp of anti-Catholicism in Parliament. It would not be the last gasp of anti-Catholicism in England, as Newman had just experienced.

Newman on Trial 

The month before he gave this famous sermon, Father John Henry Newman had been in a London courtroom. He had been charged with libel against a former Dominican priest turned anti-Catholic agitator Giovanni Giacinto Achilli. . . . 

Father John Henry Newman, formerly a Fellow of Oriel College at Oxford and an Anglican vicar, found out what being a Catholic in nineteenth century England meant. His integrity was attacked and his guilt assumed because he was a Catholic. He had spoken about English prejudice against Catholics before; now he had experienced it.

He was found guilty, fined, and ordered to pay court costs in the amount of £12,000. The judge lectured him on his fall from grace since he had left the Anglican communion. Newman could have been sent to prison.

Even the Times of London perceived the injustice of this trial: “a great blow has been given to the administration of justice in this country, and Roman Catholics will have henceforth only too good reason for asserting that there is no justice for them in matters tending to rouse the Protestant feelings of judges and juries.”

Please read the rest there.

Blessed Thomas Tunstall, OSB


According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Blessed Thomas Tunstall, OSB, who was beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1929, was:

Martyred at Norwich, 13 July, 1616. He was descended from the Tunstalls of Thurland, an ancient Lancashire family who afterwards settled in Yorkshire. In the Douay Diaries he is called by the alias of Helmes and is described as Carleolensis, that is, born within the ancient Diocese of Carlisle. He took the College oath at Douay on 24 May, 1607; received minor orders at Arras, 13 June, 1609, and the subdiaconate at Douay on 24 June following. The diary does not record his ordination to the diaconate or priesthood, but he left the college as a priest on 17 August, 1610. On reaching England he was almost immediately apprehended and spent four or five years in various prisons till he succeeded in escaping from Wisbech Castle. He made his way to a friend's house near Lynn, where is was recaptured and committed to Norwich Gaol. At the next assizes he was tried and condemned (12 July, 1616). The saintliness of his demeanor on the scaffold produced a profound impression on the people. There is a contemporary portrait of the martyr at Stonyhurst, showing him as a man still young with abundant black hair and dark moustache.

Two years ago, the Catholic diocese of East Anglia celebrated the 400th anniversary of his execution, and provides this detail (with a variation in the date of his execution):

He made his way to a safe house in King's Lynn but had injured his hand during his escape and, when he looked for medical help, was re-captured and taken to Norwich Castle.

On July 12, 1616, Thomas was tried and condemned as a Catholic priest and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered just outside of the city's Magdalen Gate where, today, Magpie Road meets Bull Close Road. A later record of the execution says that this young man, with his abundant black hair and moustache, showed more than natural courage as he prayed for his accuser and thanked him for being instrumental in his death.

Image credit: A mid-19th-century engraving of Norwich Castle (where Blessed Thomas Tunstall was imprisoned) from Charles Knight's Old England: A Pictorial Museum (1845).

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Newman's Second Spring on the Son Rise Morning Show

Father John Henry Newman of the Oratory gave his famous "Second Spring" sermon at the Mass of the Holy Spirit at the close of the first Westminster Synod held after the restoration of the hierarchy in England on July 13, 1852. In anticipation of the 166th anniversary of this event, Anna Mitchell will discuss it this morning on the Son Rise Morning Show around 7:50 a.m. Eastern/6:50 a.m. Central. During the EWTN hour on Friday, the interview will repeat.

Please listen live here.

In this eloquent sermon, Newman celebrated the revival and renewal of the Catholic Church in England:

But what is it, my Fathers, my Brothers, what is it that has happened in England just at this time? Something strange is passing over this land, by the very surprise, by the very commotion, which it excites. Were we not near enough the scene of action to be able to say what is going on,—were we the inhabitants of some sister planet possessed of a more perfect mechanism than this earth has discovered for surveying the transactions of another globe,—and did we turn our eyes thence towards England just at this season, we should be arrested by a political phenomenon as wonderful as any which the astronomer notes down from his physical field of view. It would be the occurrence of a national commotion, almost without parallel, more violent than has happened here for centuries,—at least in the judgments and intentions of men, if not in act and deed. We should note it down, that soon after St. Michael's day, 1850, a storm arose in the moral world, so furious as to demand some great explanation, and to rouse in us an intense desire to gain it. We should observe it increasing from day to day, and spreading from place to place, without remission, almost without lull, up to this very hour, when perhaps it threatens worse still, or at least gives no sure prospect of alleviation. Every party in the body politic undergoes its influence,—from the Queen upon her throne, down to the little ones in the infant or day school. The ten thousands of the constituency, the sum-total of Protestant sects, the aggregate of religious societies and associations, the great body of established clergy in town and country, the bar, even the medical profession, nay, even literary and scientific circles, every class, every interest, every fireside, gives tokens of this ubiquitous storm. This would be our report of it, seeing it from the distance, and we should speculate on the cause. What is it all about? against what is it directed? what wonder has happened upon earth? what prodigious, what preternatural event is adequate to the burden of so vast an effect?

We should judge rightly in our curiosity about a phenomenon like this; it must be a portentous event, and it is. It is an innovation, a miracle, I may say, in the course of human events. The physical world revolves year by year, and begins again; but the political order of things does not renew itself, does not return; it continues, but it proceeds; there is no retrogression. This is so well understood by men of the day, that with them progress is idolized as another name for good. The past never returns—it is never good;—if we are to escape existing ills, it must be by going forward. The past is out of date; the past is dead. As well may the dead live to us, well may the dead profit us, as the past return. This, then, is the cause of this national transport, this national cry, which encompasses us. The past has returned, the dead lives. Thrones are overturned, and are never restored; States live and die, and then are matter only for history. Babylon was great, and Tyre, and Egypt, and Nineve, and shall never be great again. The English Church was, and the English Church was not, and the English Church is once again. This is the portent, worthy of a cry. It is the coming in of a Second Spring; it is a restoration in the moral world, such as that which yearly takes place in the physical.

Anna and I will talk about how this sermon came just a month after Newman had been tried and convicted of libel--and had experienced the animosity of anti-Catholicism personally in the courtroom and from the judge.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Day One of Nine: Queen Jane


Here's History Today's take on Lady Jane Grey Dudley becoming the Queen of England on July 10, 1553:

Edward died on July 6th. Mary, on her way to Greenwich, was warned of the trap and rode pell mell for Norfolk. Elizabeth stayed in bed. The King’s death was kept quiet and on July 9th Jane was taken to Northumberland’s mansion outside London, Syon House at Isleworth, where the Duke, her husband and her parents were waiting with members of the council, who to her surprise treated her with immense deference. Northumberland announced that she was queen and she fainted before, with the utmost reluctance, accepting the throne ‘if what has been given to me is lawfully mine’. The following day she was proclaimed by heralds with flourishes of trumpets at various places in London, to the stony disapproval of the citizens. One man who incautiously said the Lady Mary had the better right had his ears cut off.

In the afternoon Jane arrived by barge at the Tower, tried on the royal crown, which made her feel faint again, and had a blazing row with her husband and his mother when she said she would not make him king. The banquet that evening was spoiled by the arrival of a letter from Mary to the council firmly asserting her right to the throne and demanding immediate support.

Jane continued going through the motions as queen in the Tower, but Northumberland had miscalculated badly. The Lady Mary was well liked (she had not burned anyone yet) and he was not. Mary’s support grew and she gathered a sizeable army, while Northumberland’s men deserted. So did the council in London. By July 18th only three of them – including Jane’s father – remained loyal to Northumberland. The others left the Tower on the improbable excuse of urgently needing to talk to the French ambassador and had the lord mayor of London proclaim Mary next day. Her father told Jane she was no longer queen and she said she was delighted to hear it and could she go home, please?

Please read the rest there.

Image credit: The Crown Offered to Lady Jane Grey, as imagined in the 1820s: Guildford and Jane are in the centre

Friday, July 6, 2018

Tomorrow: Mary, Queen of Scots on the Radio

Yesterday, I recorded a discussion with Deal Hudson for his Church and Culture program on Ave Maria Radio:

Times: Saturday, 3:00-5:00 pm EST; Sunday, 7:00-9:00 am EST (my segment will air at 4:00 pm Saturday and 8:00 a.m. Sunday--EST)!

Church and Culture engages all aspects of our culture with the aim of discussing “cultural apologetics.” Culture is discussed from a Catholic perspective in order to provide opportunities for Catholics to introduce the faith to others through a book, a movie, a TV show, a piece of music, a political issue, or an artist, among other things. The Church speaks through culture, and while there is much in our culture to be avoided, there is much that can witness to the Catholic faith. On each program, Dr. Hudson interviews noted experts in their fields, providing insight and guidance in our evangelical engagement with the culture.


He and I discussed Mary, Queen of Scots, Elizabeth I, the Scottish Reformation and the English Reformation--all in an hour!!

We will follow up with a general overview on the English Reformation in a few weeks.

Listen live here.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Next Week: The First Annual Florovsky Week



Eighth Day Institute will host its first annual Florovsky Week:

Please join us for the inaugural Florovsky Week
Honoring Fr. Georges Florovsky with a week of prayer, papers, iconography workshop, fellowship, 
a festal banquet with inaugural Florovsky Lecture & plenary dialogues on
THE PATRISTIC VIEW OF SALVATION
​Justification by Faith Alone?

Fr. Georges Florovsky, a 20th century Russian Orthodox priest, tirelessly insisted on a return to the common heritage of all Christians in the first 1000 years of the Church's history as a path to recovering a common language for progress toward overcoming the divisions of Christendom. In his honor, this week is organized to promote such a return to the sources for Christian unity.


The three main speakers, each representing a different branch of Christianity, are:

HANS BOERSMA - Protestant
J. I. Packer Professor of Theology at Regent College
Author of many books, including Violence, Hospitality and the Cross: Reappropriating the Atonement Tradition 

KENNETH HOWELL - Catholic
Academic Director of the Eucharist Project
President of the Pontifical Studies Foundation

BRADLEY NASSIF - Orthodox
Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at North Park University
"Leading academic expert on Evangelical-Orthodox dialogue."
~New York Times

The schedule is here. From Tuesday evening through Friday, the event will be held at Newman University. On Saturday, the presentations will be held at St. George's Orthodox Cathedral.

I'll be making a presentation the first afternoon:

3:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 11, 2018
Group 1-Eck 124 (on the campus of Newman University)
~Malcolm Harris- Good Pope John’s (Not So) Secret Agenda to Reunite Christianity
~Stephanie Mann-Reformation and Counter-Reformation: The Catholic Mission in England and Why it Failed
~Angie Gumm-Unwitting Ecumenicalism: Annum Sacrum and Pope Leo XIII's Consecration of the World to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Reformation and Counter-Reformation: The Catholic Mission in England and Why it Failed

After the theological ideas of Martin Luther, John Calvin, and other Protestant Reformers spread on the Continent and in the British Isles, the Latin Rite Catholic Church mounted a Counter-Reformation campaign. Religious orders like the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) and the Capuchins (a Franciscan order) succeeded—as even James R. Payton, Jr, recognized in Getting the Reformation Wrong: Correcting Some Misunderstandings (IVP Academic: 2010)—in taking back some territory and bringing back some Protestant converts to the Catholic Church. In one country, however, all the efforts and sacrifices of clerical and lay martyrs seemed to have failed. I propose to discuss why Catholics, in spite of (and sometimes because of) tremendous plans, sacrifices and heroism, failed in their mission even to obtain freedom of worship in their native land throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The presentation will include stories of those martyred saints who died in that failed mission and analysis of the tangle of religion and politics during the long Reformation era.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Month of Devotion to the Precious Blood


Although the Solemnity of the Precious Blood on July 1 was removed from the Church's calendar in 1969, the month of July is still traditionally dedicated to devotion to the Precious Blood of Jesus, by which we are saved. Devotion to the Precious Blood is obviously Eucharistic, because Catholics believe that we receive Jesus sacramentally in Holy Communion, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. It also has connections to our devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, since His heart was pierced by the soldier's lance on Calvary, and blood and water poured out. This devotion is rich and it's not just for Catholics: being washed in the Blood of Jesus is a common theme in traditional Protestant hymns.

Some of the Catholic hymns for the feast are ancient, like this one for Vespers:

Festivis resonent Compita vocibus:
Cives laetitiam frontibus explicent:
Tædis flammiferis ordine prodeant
Instructi pueri, et senes.
Quem dura moriens Christus in arbore
Fudit multiplici vulnere Sanguinem,
Nos facti memores, dum colimus, decet
Saltem fundere lacrimas.
Humano generi pernicies gravis
Adami veteris crimine contigit:
Adami integritas, et pietas novi
Vitam reddidit omnibus.
Clamorem validum Summus ab Æthero
Languentis Geniti si Pater audiit,
Placari potius Sanguine debuit,
Et nobis veniam dare.
Hoc quicumque stolam Sanguine proluit,
Abstergit maculas, et roseum decus,
Quo fiat similis protinus Angelis,
Et Regi placeat capit.
A recto instabilis tramite postmodum
Se nullus retrahat, meta sed ultima
Tangatur; tribuet nobile præmium,
Qui cursum Deus adiuvat.
Nobis propitius sis Genitor potens,
Ut quos Unigenæ Sanguine Filii
Emisti, et placido Flamine recreas,
Cæli ad culmina transferas. Amen.
The Catholic Encyclopedia describes this hymn for Vespers on the Solemnity of the Precious Blood of Jesus (1962 Calendar) thus:

The Vesper hymn of the feast, "Festivis resonent compita vocibus", comprising seven Asclepiadic stanzas, and the Matins hymn, "Ira justa conditoris imbre aquarum vindice", comprising six stanzas, have been translated by Caswall (Lyra Catholica, pp. 83, 85), Bagshawe (loc. cit., Nos. 95-6), Donahoe (loc. cit., pp. 249-52). The Vesper hymn was also translated by Potter (Annus Sanctus, Part I, p. 85), and the Matins hymn by O'Connor (Arundel Hymns, etc., 1902, No. 80), and by Henry (Sursum Corda, 1907, p. 5).

Father Edward Caswall's translation:

Forth let the long procession stream,
And through the streets in order wend;
Let the bright waving line of torches gleam,
The solemn chant ascend.
While we, with tears and sighs profound,
That memorable Blood record,
Which, stretch’d on his hard Cross, from many a wound
The dying Jesus pour’d.
By the first Adam’s fatal sin
Came death upon the human race;
In this new Adam doth new life begin,
And everlasting grace.
For scarce the Father heard from Heaven
The cry of his expiring Son,
When in that cry our sins were all forgiven,
And boundless pardon won.
Henceforth, whoso in that dear Blood
Washeth, shall lose his every stain;
And in immortal roseate beauty rob’d,
An angel’s likeness gain.
Only, run thou with courage on
Straight to the goal set in the skies;
He, who assists thy course, will give thee soon
The everlasting prize.
Father supreme! vouchsafe that we,
For whom thine only Son was slain,
And whom thy Holy Ghost doth sanctify,
May heavenly joys attain.
So what is an Asclepiadic stanza? It's a stanza in a Greek poetic meter:

An Asclepiad (Latin: Asclepiadeus) is a line of poetry following a particular metrical pattern. The form is attributed to Asclepiades of Samos and is one of the Aeolic metres.

As with other Aeolic metrical lines, the asclepiad is built around a choriamb. The Asclepiad may be described as a glyconic that has been expanded with one (Lesser Asclepiad) or two (Greater Asclepiad) further choriambs. . . .

Asclepiads were used in Latin by Horace in thirty-four of his odes, as well as by Catullus in Poem 30, and Seneca. Examples in English verse include parts of Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia ("Here wrong's name is unheard, slander a monster is; / Keep thy sprite from abuse, here no abuse doth haunt. / What man grafts in a tree dissimulation?") and W. H. Auden's "In Due Season" ("Springtime, Summer and Fall: days to behold a world").

Monday, July 2, 2018

Newman and Gregorian Chant

Susan Treacy, professor of music at Ave Maria University, and a member of the board of directors of the Church Music Association of America (CMAA) writes in the online edition of the Adoremus Bulletin about Blessed John Henry Newman and liturgical music, commenting on Newman's interest in Gregorian Chant, his preference for orchestral Masses, and his efforts to use popular hymns for their catechetical value:

Newman and his friends spent Holy Week in Rome. Here he met with the Abbé Fortunato Santini, the Vatican’s music librarian, in an effort to learn what he could about Gregorian chant. Back in England, a revival of Gregorian chant was under way, both in Anglican and in Catholic circles, and the young minister sought to become better informed about this ancient sacred art. Newman’s taste in church music, despite his interest in Gregorian chant, was eclectic, and often as not reflected the contemporary penchant for the orchestrally accompanied Mass settings of Haydn, Mozart, and others. He also believed in the utility of popular hymns in evangelizing and catechizing people of many walks of life. In his autobiographical novel, Loss and Gain, three young men —Bateman, Campbell, and Reding — vigorously discuss the merits of Gregorian chant versus “modern” music, along with Gothic versus Classical architecture. After a while, Bateman admits to preferring instrumentally accompanied chant, “the glorious old chants, and just a little modern richness”.8 Bellasis comments that:


The foregoing would probably open out … a wide field for further discussion, but so much may be fairly gathered, viz., that the Cardinal’s musical views were sensible ones, even if open, theoretically, to some differences of opinion. Omnia probate, he seems to say, quod bonum est tenete. [“Test everything, hold fast to what is good”, from Thessalonians 5:21. – Ed.] He had, of course, no sympathy with extravagances. His was a cultured, at any rate a refined taste, sui similis [“like himself”], and when it was said in April, 1886, that Niedermeyer’s B minor Mass was “elaborate”, he observed: “Well, I like a medium in music, although I may be wrong in that.” All was well, we suppose, provided the best gifts of Catholic masters in their art were in good faith proffered to Almighty God.… All was well, too, if singers and players were animated with the Catholic spirit that breathed in a Haydn and a Mozart, to say nothing of later giants. Under such conditions, and with due observance of the unaccompanied chant in Advent and Lent, the male choirs of both Oratories in England have probably done a good work, and if so, one worthy of Saint Philip’s blessing.9

Newman, despite his love for the full sound of an orchestral Mass, was cognizant of the dangers of this kind of church music, as he revealed in
The Idea of a University.

Doubtless, here, too, the highest genius may be made subservient to religion … but it is certain that religion must be alive and on the defensive, for if its servant sleep a potent enchantment will steal over it…. If, then, a great master in this mysterious science … throws himself on his own gifts, trusts its inspirations and absorbs himself in those thoughts which, though they come to him in the way of nature belong to things above nature, it is obvious he will neglect everything else. Rising in his strength he will break through the trammels of words; he will scatter human voices, even the sweetest, to the winds; he will be borne upon nothing else than the fullest flood of sounds which art has enabled him to draw from mechanical contrivances; he will go forth as a giant, as far as ever his instruments can reach, starting from their secret depths fresh and fresh elements of beauty and grandeur as he goes, and pouring them together into still more marvellous and rapturous combinations —and well indeed, and lawfully, while he keeps to that line which is his own; but should he happen to be attracted, as he well may, by the sublimity, so congenial to him, of the Catholic doctrine and ritual, should he engage in sacred themes, should he resolve by means of his art to do honor to the Mass, or the Divine Office — he cannot have a more pious, a better purpose, and religion will gracefully accept what he gracefully offers; but — is it not certain from the circumstances of the case, that he will be carried on rather to use religion than to minister to it, unless religion is strong on its own ground, and reminds him that if he would do honor to the highest of subjects, he must make himself its scholar, must humbly follow the thoughts given him, and must aim at the glory, not of his own gift, but of the Great Giver?10

Her discussion of Newman and liturgical music matches well the article I cited several years ago by Revd. Guy Nicholls M.A. S.T.L. C.O. Priest of the Birmingham Oratory (from 1999).

She references a book by Edward Bellasis, published in 1892, Cardinal Newman as a Musician. It is available online here. Bellasis was the son of Edward Bellasis, a convert to Catholicism. Bellasis attended Mass at Newman's Birmingham Oratory and so reflected on the experience in his book, for example:

Altogether we have ever felt that there is an indescribable brightness, a radiant cheerfulness, which might have pleased St. Philip, about the Birmingham selection of hymns and tunes, with Beethoven, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Pleyell, Crookall, Webbe, Moorat, and others laid under contribution. In the Saint's time, we know, "there were sung at the Oratory many Laudi, motets, madrigals, and sacred songs in the vulgar tongue, and these gave scope for composers to essay a simpler, and more popular and stirring style of music."[53] Take up then the Father's book, hear the people at the May devotions sing such winning songs as the "Pilgrim Queen" (No. 38, Regina Apostolorum), and the "Month of Mary" (No. 32, Rosa Mystica), or listen during St. Philip's Novena, to "St. Philip in his School" (No. 49), "in his Mission" (No. 50), "in Himself" (No. 51, "Regulars and St. Philip"), and "in his Disciples" (No. 54, "Philip and the Poor"), and we conclude that, as with the Saint, so with his distinguished son, it has been his "aim to make sacred music popular;"[54] and may we not further say that the Cardinal, without any parade whatever, but in the simplest fashion, has somehow succeeded at Birmingham in his aim?

The Webbe that Bellasis refers to is Samuel Webbe. Ignaz Pleyel wrote sacred works for the Catholic cathedral in Strasbourg, but he also wrote music during the French Revolution celebrating the Temple of Reason, the Supreme Being, and victories of the Revolutionary armies thus keeping his job and his head. Dr. Monsignor John Crookall was choir-master at St. Edmund's College and composed Masses and hymns. Moorat? I haven't been able to find that composer (Mouret?)

Sunday, July 1, 2018

John Clement, RIP

John Clement, a physician, married Margaret Giggs, one of St. Thomas More's wards. He endured exile from England twice and died in Mechelin, on July 1, 1572, the 37th anniversary of Thomas More's trial. His wife (who was included in the family portrait Hans Holbein the Younger had made) had predeceased him on July 6, 1570, the 35th anniversary of Thomas More's martyrdom! According to the Dictionary of National Biography, Clement was:

president of the College of Physicians, probably a native of Yorkshire, received his education at St. Paul's School, and at an early period made the acquaintance of Sir Thomas More, who took him into his family, made him tutor to his children, and treated him with a kindness almost paternal (Robinson, Registers of St. Paul's School, p. 19). Wood asserts that Clement had a part of his original education at Oxford, though at what house is unknown (Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, i. 401). About 1519 he settled in Corpus Christi College on being constituted by Cardinal Wolsey his rhetoric reader in the university of Oxford, and subsequently he became reader of Greek. He studied medicine and was created M.D. On 1 Feb. 1527-8 he was admitted a member of the London College of Physicians (Munk, Coll. of Phys. ed. 1878, i. 26). On 16 April following he was admitted an 'elect,' and he was one of the physicians sent by Henry VIII to Wolsey when the cardinal lay languishing at Esher in 1529. He was 'consiliarius ' in 1529, 1530, 1531, and 1547, and in 1544 he was elected president of the College of Physicians. In the reign of Edward VI he retired to Louvain for religion's sake, as 'he always adhered scrupulously both to the doctrine and authority of the see of Rome' (Dodd, Church Hist. i. 202).

On 19 March 1553-4 he returned to England, and during Mary's reign practised his faculty in Essex. He was elected censor of the College of Physicians in 1555, and consiliarius in 1556, 1557, and 1558. Soon after Elizabeth's accession he again retired abroad, and practised his profession at Mechlin till his death, which occurred at his residence in the Blockstrate in St. John's parish on 1 July 1572 (Pus, De Anglice Scriptoribus, p. 767). He was buried the following day in the cathedral church of St. Rumbold, near his wife Margaret [see Clement, Margaret], who died on 6 July 1570. She had been educated with the children of Sir Thomas More, and had shared Clement's tuition with them.

Her tutor had made her little inferior to himself in the knowledge of Latin and Greek, and she assisted him in his translations.

He composed 'Epigrammatum et aliorum carminum liber,' and translated from Greek into Latin: 1. The Epistles of Gregory Nazianzen. 2. The Homilies of Nicephorus Calixtus concerning the Greek Saints. 3. The Epistles of Pope Celestine I to Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria (Tanner, Bill. Brit. p. 184).


He is sometimes identified as the man holding the scroll on the far right in the Rowland Lockey copy of Holbein's family portrait, which has been lost.


More about John Clement here. John and Margaret's daughter, Winifred, married William Rastell, who was the elder son of the printer, John Rastell (d. 1536) by his wife Elizabeth, sister of Sir Thomas More. Rastell published two volumes of More's works in 1557. Winifred died in 1553 and Rastell died in 1565 in Louvain.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Tomorrow at St. Anthony of Padua in Wichita, Kansas

Our Latin Mass Community in Wichita, Kansas will receive some special blessings tomorrow on the feast of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ:

Canon Scott Smith to offer Mass this Sunday, give first blessings – Canon Scott Smith of the Institute of Christ the King, who has visited us over the years before being ordained a priest last July, will offer his first Mass in Wichita this Sunday and give first blessings.

He is a Vicar at the St. Francis de Sales Oratory in St. Louis, Missouri. Our email bulletin has provided us with some guidance:

Some special elements of the Mass: Before the Asperges, the Veni Creator Spiritus will be sung. After intoning the Gloria, Father will read it aloud, and then will be seated while the choir sings it. After the Last Gospel, Father will immediately give first blessings and holy cards, first to the altar servers, and then to the choir and faithful, who kneel at the rail as for Holy Communion. Once Father has blessed you, the custom is to kiss the palms of his hands. The choir will sing a hymn during the blessings, and Father will recess to the sacristy once the blessings are completed.

I do not know the whole background of how Canon (Father) Scott Smith pursued his vocation in the Institute of Christ the King, but there is one aspect that reminds me of the Catholic men who left England to pursue their vocations on the Continent. Canon Scott studied for the priesthood in Italy, a long way from Wichita, Kansas, enduring separation from his family. He was ordained on July 6, 2017 and returned to the U.S.A. to serve a Latin Mass community; there is no Oratory of his order in Wichita, Kansas, so like a missionary priest of the recusant era in England, he is sent to serve the people of a certain area without regard to his family connections. (Priests ordained in the Diocese of Wichita will be much close to their families, geographically). There's a great deal of sacrifice involved, so it's good that Canon Smith can return to Wichita on the Feast of the Precious Blood!

Image of St. Francis de Sales on the outside of the Oratory in St. Louis, Missouri. Source.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Knox and Caswall, and Faber: "Decora Lux" Translations


The June issue of Magnificat includes an art essay on a mosaic in the Church of St. Prassede in Rome and cites the ancient hymn honoring St. Peter and St. Paul, Decora Lux, words attributed to Elphis, the wife of Boethius. Ronald Knox translated the hymn (read more about its development here) thus:

What fairer light is this than time itself doth own,
The golden day with beams more radiant brightening?
The princes of God’s Church this feast day doth enthrone,
To sinners heavenward bound their burden lightening.

One taught mankind its creed, one guards the heavenly gate,
Founders of Rome, they bind the world in loyalty;
One by the sword achieved, one by the cross his fate;
With laurelled brows they hold eternal royalty.

Rejoice, O Rome, this day; thy walls they once did sign
With princely blood, who now their glory share with thee.
What city’s vesture glows with crimson deep as thine?
What beauty else has earth that may compare with thee?

To God the three in one eternal homage be,
All honor, all renown, all songs victorious,
Who rules both heaven and earth by one divine decree,
To everlasting years in empire glorious. 

The Oratorian Father Edward Caswall translated it as Bathed in Eternity's All-Beauteous Beam in his Lyra Catholica in 1849. Another Oratorian, Father Frederick Faber, translated it as It Is No Earthly Summer's Ray. More about the hymn in this book , The Hymns of the Breviary and Missal (, on page 262.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles and Martyrs


According to the Catholic Church's Canon Law, we are obliged to attend Mass on certain days every year:

Can.  1246 §1. Sunday, on which by apostolic tradition the paschal mystery is celebrated, must be observed in the universal Church as the primordial holy day of obligation. The following days must also be observed: the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Epiphany, the Ascension, the Body and Blood of Christ, Holy Mary the Mother of God, her Immaculate Conception, her Assumption, Saint Joseph, Saint Peter and Saint Paul the Apostles, and All Saints.

Here in the United States, however, the solemnities of Saint Joseph and Saint Peter and Saint Paul the Apostles are not Holy days of Obligation, because:

§2. With the prior approval of the Apostolic See, however, the conference of bishops can suppress some of the holy days of obligation or transfer them to a Sunday.

So many Catholics outside of the U.S.A.--including in the dioceses of England and Wales--are celebrating this feast tomorrow as a Holy day of Obligation, also curtailing their workaday activities as though it is a Sunday. Pope Francis will celebrate Mass and bless the Pallia for the new Cardinals in Vatican City at St. Peter's Basilica. 

Tonight, however, I'll have the opportunity to attend Mass for the Vigil of the feast in the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite (EFLR) and tomorrow in the Ordinary Form of the Latin Rite at daily Mass. It's interesting to note that the vestment color for tonight's Mass in the Extraordinary Form is violet, while the vestments for the Ordinary Form is Red tonight for the Vigil and also tomorrow--Red is the color of the EFLR Mass tomorrow. Even though the Solemnity is not a Holy day of Obligation in the U.S.A., it's clear that it's a special feast. If one went to Mass during the day today, it's the Memorial of St. Irenaeus of Lyon, Bishop and Martyr. Tonight, we begin celebrating the feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul with Vespers and the Vigil Mass.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

England's Nero and the Sacred Heart of Jesus

From First Things, a review of a biography of Henry VIII, focusing on the author's knowledge and understanding of medieval Catholic piety and devotion:

Matusiak is neither Catholic nor especially anti-Catholic. He acknowledges the recent attacks by historians on St. Thomas More, but isn’t persuaded by them. He is a little bewildered by sixteenth-century Catholic piety, but paints a vivid picture of it. And he is perceptive on the king’s relationship to Catholic orthodoxy: “Henry sought throughout the 1540s to impose his own idiosyncratic, hybrid version of doctrine which contained elements both to satisfy and at the same time to frustrate all sides.”

But while I was enjoying this book, I was conscious of an absence, which became obvious only when we got to St. John Fisher’s martyrdom. It is not just that Matusiak characterises Fisher’s stance as an “overreaction”; that is understandable. A non-Catholic is unlikely to sympathize with Fisher’s view that to reject a single doctrine is to abandon the Faith. No, what really rings false is Matusiak’s portrait of the saint as “a hair-shirted, hard-praying, uncompromising flagellant … a scholar and ascetic worthy of beatification.” That’s not inaccurate, but Fisher was so much else besides.

He was, before his dramatic end, a bishop who traveled his diocese visiting the sick of every parish, sitting by the bedside of some suffering invalid for three or four hours at a time; who gave cash and a meal to the beggars crowding at his door each day, while denying himself not just comforts but normal amounts of food and sleep; whose near-contemporary biographer wrote, “To poor sick persons he was a physician, to the lame he was a staff, to poor widows an advocate, to orphans a tutor, and to poor travellers a host.” What Matusiak misses is the deepest thing in St. John Fisher—his love for God and for his neighbor.

Likewise, Matusiak draws an affectionate sketch of the strong-willed Catherine of Aragon, who defied “an assemblage of England’s great and mighty with consummate ease.” But we do not glimpse the Catherine who yearned, as she wrote in a late letter, for “the calm life of the blessed,” when she would see the God she adored.



Matusiak gives us a sense of sixteenth-century English Catholicism, in its awareness of the supernatural—“At this time when funerals were among the most frequent of church services, hell itself was never more than a failed heartbeat or horse’s stumble away”—and its variety of devotions. But he cannot explain to the reader why the removal of the traditional religion so enraged Northern England that around 40,000 people took up arms. The Northerners were, he says in an unusually flat passage, “conservative.”

A better clue to their motives would be found in the banners they were carrying. The army—or as they called themselves, pilgrims—marched behind huge images of the Five Wounds of Christ, including His wounded heart: an image that was a precursor of the later devotion to the Sacred Heart.

Ignatius Press has published an updated edition of Timothy O'Donnell's excellent Heart of the Redeemer, in which the author traces the history of this perennial devotion. Here at the end of the month of June, dedicated to devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, it's appropriate to remember how Catholics throughout the ages have loved the Lord in His Sacred Heart.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Defending St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More

Watch this space for an article on St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, defending them again this year as brave and holy martyrs for Jesus and His One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church! It seems like every year there's some attack against them or some disparaging of their opposition to Henry VIII's supremacy. This year it came from Peter Hitchens in First Things:

This leads to the unavoidable conclusion that Henry’s judicial murders of Thomas More and John Fisher were political in origin, not religious. Both More and Fisher were brave and principled, beyond doubt. They were also given to fierce and cruel persecution of Protestant heretics—both, along with their Catholic King Henry VIII, were implicated in the savage death by fire of the Protestant martyr Thomas Hitton in 1530. Nor is there any doubt that Fisher, saintly Englishman or not, made treasonous approaches to Eustace Chapuys, Charles V’s ambassador in London, urging Charles to invade England and overthrow Henry. By going to their deaths over the question of papal authority over the king, Fisher and More chose an issue peripheral to Christ’s teaching, which renders unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and is preoccupied with a kingdom that is not of this world. Far from being an unalterable principle, the dissolubility of marriage had already been conceded by the chief of their Church, and would be conceded again in the future, right up to the extraordinary annulment of Sen. Edward Kennedy’s first (and in Christian terms only) marriage.

These facts are a nuisance to Roman Catholic martyrology in England. More and Fisher are essential to the story of Protestant brutality and intolerance, which greatly aided the nineteenth-century re-founding of the Catholic Church in England and sustains it still. Reborn Catholicism in England needed a counterblast to Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and its long list of Mary’s victims, and to the commemorations of Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley in Oxford. It needed Englishmen who had died for the Catholic faith. Foreigners were of no use.


It also needed a martyrs’ memorial. More and Fisher, like Latimer, Ridley, and Cranmer, were undeniably great and courageous Englishmen, and eloquent ones, too. One especially potent use of their memory can be found in St Wilfrid’s Chapel in the Brompton Oratory in London, perhaps the supreme headquarters of Catholic militancy in England. Above the altar of the English martyrs, in a side chapel of this majestic church, is a powerfully sinister and suggestively grim mural. It looks very old, but it was painted in 1938 by Rex Whistler (who is possibly the model for Charles Ryder in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited). It depicts executions at Tyburn, London’s principal place for such things, and is flanked by idealized portraits of More and Fisher. 

So check out my response here.

Saint John Fisher, pray for us!

Saint Thomas More, pray for us!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Irish Martyrs: The Blessed Few of Many


Dermot O'Hurley, the Catholic Archbishop of Carshel, was hanged on June 20, 1584, outside of Dublin after excruciating torture. According to the Dictionary of National Biography, he was

called in Irish Diarmait Ua Hurthuile, the son of William O'Hurley, by his wife, Honora O'Brien of the O'Briens of Thomond, was born about 1619. His father, a well-to-do farmer at Lycodoon in the parish of Knockea, near Limerick, also acted as agent for the Earl of Desmond. Being destined for a learned profession, he was sent, after receiving what education was possible for him in Ireland, to Louvain, where he took his degree with applause in the canon and civil law. Afterwards he appears to have gone to Paris, and about 1559 he was appointed professor of philosophy at Louvain. Subsequently he held the chair of canon law for four years at Rheims, where he acquired an unhappy notoriety for contracting debts. He then proceeded to Rome, where he became deeply engaged in the plans of the Irish exiles against Elizabeth's government. On 11 Sept. 1581 he was appointed by Gregory XIII to the see of Cashel, vacant since 1578 by the death of Maurice Fitzgibbon, and on 27 Nov. he received the pallium in full consistory. He was a mere layman at the time, and a contemporary congratulates him on the triple honour thus conferred on him: —

Quid dicam? vel quid mirer? nova culmina? mirer
⁠Uno te passu tot saliisse gradus!
Una sacerdotem creat, una et episcopon bora,
⁠Archiepiscopon et te facit bora simul.

In the following summer he set out from Rome to take possession of his diocese, proceeding by way of Rheims, where he discharged his debts 'recte et gratiose,' and where he was in August detained for a time by a severe illness. He embarked at Cherbourg, and landed at Skerries, a little to the north of Dublin, about the beginning of September. His baggage and papers he had sent by another vessel, which was captured by pirates, and in this way government was apprised of his intentions, and caused a sharp outlook to be kept for him at the principal ports. Disguising himself, and attended by only one companion. Father John Dillon, he made his way to Waterford; but being recognised there by a government agent, he retraced his steps to Slane Castle, where he lay for some time concealed in a secret chamber. Becoming more confident, he appeared at the public table, where his conversation aroused the suspicions of the chancellor. Sir Robert Dillon. Finding himself suspected, he proceeded by a circuitous route to Carrick-on-Suir, where, with Ormonde's help, he was shortly afterwards, about the beginning of October, captured. He was taken to Dublin, and committed to prison. Being brought before the lords-justices Archbishop Loft us and Sir Henry Wallop for examination, little of importance was elicited from him, though he admitted that he was 'one of the House of Inciuisition,' and his papers revealed his correspondence with the Earl of Desmond and viscount Baltinglas. Walsingham recommended the use of 'torture, or any other severe manner of proceeding to gain his knowledge of all foreign practices against her majesty's state;' but the lords justices, especially Loftus, were loth, out of respect for his position and learning, to resort to such extreme measures, and, on the ground that they had neither rack nor other instrument of terror, advised that he should be sent to London. Walsingham, however, impressed with the dangerous nature of his mission, suggested toasting his feet against the fire with hot boots, and a commission having been made out to Waterhouse and Fenton for that purpose, O'Hurley was subjected to the most excruciating torture, He bore the ordeal with extraordinary patience and heroism, and was taken back to 'prison more dead than alive. Torture having failed, and government being advised that ' an indictment for treason committed abroad would not lie, and fearing to run the risk of a trial by jury, O'Hurley, after nine months' imprisonment, was condemned by martial law. The warrant for his execution was signed by Loft us and Wallop on 20 June 1584, and next day, very early in the morning, he was executed, being hanged for greater ignominy with a withen rope, at a lonely spot in the outskirts of the city, probably near where the Catholic University Church now stands in St. Stephen's Green. His remains were interred at the place of execution, but were privately removed by William Fitzsimon, a citizen of Dublin, who placed them in a wooden urn, and deposited them in the church of St. Kevin. His grave became famous among the faithful for several miracles reputed to have taken place there.


From the date of his martyrdom the Irish martyrs beatified by Pope St. John Paul II in 1992 take their feast. The others honored today are:

Bishop Patrick O’Healy and Father Cornelius O’Rourke, Franciscans: tortured and hanged at Kilmallock 22nd August 1579

The Wexford Martyrs: Matthew Lambert and sailors – Robert Tyler, Edward Cheevers and Patrick Cavanagh: died in Wexford 1581

Margaret Ball: lay woman, died in prison 1584

Maurice Kenraghty (or MacEnraghty): secular priest, hanged at Clonmel on 20th April 1585

Dominic Collins: Jesuit brother, hanged in Youghal 1602

Bishop Conor O’Devany and Father Patrick O’Loughran: Franciscans, hanged 6th February 1612

Francis Taylor of Swords, lay man, Lord Mayor of Dublin: died in prison 1621

Father Peter Higgins, Dominican, Prior of Naas: hanged at Hoggen Green, Dublin 23rd March 1642

Bishop Terence Albert O’Brien, Dominican: hanged and beheaded at Gallow’s Green, Limerick 30th October 1651

John Kearney, Franciscan, hanged 11th March 1653

William Tirry, Augustinian, hanged 2nd May 1654


More about them here.

As the Catholic Encyclopedia explains, there are many more Irish martyrs who have not been beatified nor canonized by the Catholic Church. It is an extremely long list, especially under "Good Queen Bess", Elizabeth I. When you read the descriptions of how some of them were killed, it reminds you of the cruelty of the Communists in Russia against the Orthodox:

1565: Conacius Macuarta (Conn McCourt) and Roger MacCongaill (McConnell), Franciscans — flogged to death, Armagh, 16 December, for refusing to acknowledge the queen's supremacy.
1575: John Lochran, Donagh O'Rorke, and Edmund Fitzsimon, Franciscans — hanged, 21 January, Downpatrick;
1575: Fergall Ward, Franciscan guardian, Armagh — hanged, 28 April, with his own girdle.
1577: Thomas Courcy, vicar-general at Kinsale — hanged, 30 March;
1577: William Walsh, Cistercian, Bishop of Meath — died, 4 January, in exile at Alcalá.
1578: Patrick O'Hely, Bishop of Mayo, and Cornelius O'Rorke, priest, Franciscans — tortured and hanged, 22 August, Kilmallock;
1578: David Hurley, dean of Emly — died in prison;
1578: Thomas Moeran, dean of Cork — taken in the exercise of his functions and executed.
1579: Thaddæus Daly and his companion, O.S.F. — hanged, drawn, and quartered at Limerick, 1 January. The bystanders reported that his head when cut off distinctly uttered the words: "Lord, show me Thy ways."
1579: Edmund Tanner, S.J., Bishop of Cork — died, 4 June, in prison at Dublin;
1579: John O'Dowd, priest, O.S.F. — refused to reveal a confession, put to death at Elphin by having his skull compressed with a twisted cord;
1579: Thomas O'Herlahy, Bishop of Ross.
1580: Edmund MacDonnell, priest, S.J. — 16 March, Cork (but the year should be 1575 and the name perhaps O'Donnell);
1580: Laurence O'Moore, priest, Oliver Plunkett, gentleman, and William Walsh or Willick, an Englishman — tortured and hanged, 11 November, after the surrender of Dun-an-oir in Kerry;
1580: Daniel O'Neilan priest, O.S.F. — fastened round the waist with a rope and thrown with weights tied to his feet from one of town-gates at Youghal, finally fastened to a mill-wheel and torn to pieces, 28 March. He is obviously the person whom Mooney commemorates under the name O'Duillian, assigning the date, 22 April, 1569, from hearsay;
1580: Daniel Hanrichan, Maurice O'Scanlan, and Philip O'Shee (O'Lee), priests, O.S.F. — beaten with sticks and slain, 6 April, before the altar of Lislachtin monastery, Co. Kerry;
1580: the prior at the Cistercian monastery of Graeg, and his companions. Murphy, quoting O'Sullevan, says the monastery was Graiguenamanagh; O'Sullevan names the place Seripons, Jerpoint.
1581: Nicholas Nugent, chief justice, David Sutton, John Sutton, Thomas Eustace, John Eustace, William Wogan, Robert Sherlock, John Clinch, Thomas Netherfield, or Netterville, Robert Fitzgerald, gentleman of the Pale, and Walter Lakin (Layrmus) — executed on a charge of complicity in rebellion with Lord Baltinglass;
1581: Matthew Lamport, described as a parish priest (pastor) of Dublin Diocese, but more probably a baker (pistor) of Wexford — executed for harbouring Baltinglass and Father Rochford, S.J.
1581: Robert Meyler, Edward Cheevers, John O'Lahy, and Patrick Canavan, sailors of Wexford — hanged, drawn, and quartered, 5 July, for conveying priests, a Jesuit, and laymen out of Ireland;
1581: Patrick Hayes, shipowner of Wexford, charged with aiding bishops, priests, and others — died in prison;
1581: Richard French, priest, Ferns Diocese — died in prison;
1581: Nicholas Fitzgerald, Cistercian — hanged, drawn, and quartered, September, at Dublin.
1582: Phelim O'Hara and Henry Delahoyde, O.S.F., of Moyne, Co. Mayo — hanged and quartered, 1 May;
1582: Thaddæus O'Meran, or O'Morachue, O.S.F., guardian of Enniscorthy;
1582: Phelim O'Corra (apparently Phelim O'Hara, above);
1582: Æneas Penny, parish priest of Killatra (Killasser, Co. Mayo) — slain by soldiers while saying Mass, 4 May;
1582: Roger O'Donnellan, Cahill McGoran, Peter McQuillan, Patrick O'Kenna, James Pillan, priests, and Roger O'Hanlon (more correctly McHenlea, in Curry), lay brother, O.S.F. — died, 13 February, Dublin Castle, but the date can scarcely be correct for all;
1582: Henry O'Fremlamhaidh (anglicized Frawley);
1582: John Wallis, priest — died, 20 January, in prison at Worcester;
1582: Donagh O'Reddy, parish priest of Coleraine — hanged and transfixed with swords, 12 June, at the altar of his church.
1584: Dermot O'Hurley, Archbishop of Cashel;
1584: Gelasius O'Cullenan, O.Cist., Abbot of Boyle, and his companion, variously named Eugene Cronius and Hugh or John Mulcheran (? Eoghan O'Maoilchiarain), either Abbot of Trinity Island, Co. Roscommon, or a secular priest — hanged, 21 November, at Dublin;
1584: John O'Daly, priest, O.S.F. — trampled to death by cavalry;
1584: Eleanor Birmingham, widow of Bartholomew Ball — denounced by her son, Walter Ball, Mayor of Dublin, died in prison;
1584: Thaddæus Clancy, 15 September, near Listowel.
1585: Richard Creagh, Archbishop of Armagh — poisoned, 14 October, in the Tower of London. He is included amongst the 242 Prætermissi in the article ENGLISH CONFESSORS AND MARTYRS;
1585: Maurice Kenraghty, priest; Patrick O'Connor and Malachy O'Kelly, O.Cist. — hanged and quartered, 19 May, at Boyle.
1586: Maurice, or Murtagh, O'Brien, Bishop of Emly — died in prison at Dublin;
Donagh O'Murheely (O'Murthuile, wrongly identified with O'Hurley) and a companion, O.S.F. — stoned and tortured to death at Muckross, Killarney.
1587: John Cornelius, O.S.F., of Askeaton; another John Cornelius, S.J., surnamed O'Mahony, born in England of Irish parents from Kinelmeky, Co. Cork, is included among the venerabiles of the English list;
1587: Walter Farrell, O.S.F., Askeaton — hanged with his own girdle.
1588: Dermot O'Mulrony, priest, O.S.F., Brother Thomas, and another Franciscan of Galbally, Co. Limerick — put to death there 21 March;
1588: Maurice Eustace, Jesuit novice — hanged and quartered, 9 June, Dublin;
1588: John O'Molloy, Cornelius O'Dogherty, and Geoffrey Farrell, Franciscan priests — hanged, drawn, and quartered, 15 December, at Abbeyleix;
1588: Patrick Plunkett, knight — hanged and quartered, 6 May, Dublin;
1588: Peter Miller, B.D., Diocese of Ferns — tortured, hanged, and quartered, 4 October, 1588;
1588: Peter (or Patrick) Meyler — executed at Galway; notwithstanding the different places of martyrdom assigned, these two names may be those of the same person, a native of Wexford executed at Galway;
1588: Patrick O'Brady, O.S.F., prior at Monaghan — Murphy, on slender grounds, supposes him to be the guardian put to death in 1540, but Copinger and after him Curry, in his "Civil Wars in Ireland", state that six friars were slain in the monastery of Moynihan (Monaghan) under Elizabeth, Thaddæus O'Boyle, guardian of Donegal, slain there, 13 April, by soldiers.
1590: Matthew O'Leyn, priest, O.S.F. — 6 March, Kilcrea;
1590: Christopher Roche, layman — died, 13 December, under torture, Newgate, London.
1591: Terence Magennis, Magnus O'Fredliney or O'Todhry, Loughlin og Mac O'Cadha (? Mac Eochadha, Keogh), Franciscans of Multifarnham — died in prison.
1594: Andrew Strich, priest, Limerick — died in Dublin Castle.
1597: John Stephens, priest, Dublin province, apparently chaplain to the O'Byrnes of Wicklow — hanged and quartered, 4 September, for saying Mass;
1597: Walter Fernan, priest — torn on the rack, 12 March, at Dublin.
1599: George Power, Vicar-General of Ossory — died in prison.
1600: John Walsh, Vicar-General of Dublin — died in prison at Chester;
1600: Patrick O'Hea, layman — charged with harbouring priests, died in prison, 4 December, Dublin--probably the Patrick Hayes of 1581 (supra);
1600: James Dudall (Dowdall) — died either 20 November or 13 August, Exeter;
1600: Nicholas Young, priest, died, Dublin Castle.
1601: Redmond O'Gallagher, Bishop of Derry — slain by soldiers, 15 March, near Dungiven;
1601: Daniel, or Donagh, O'Mollony, Vicar-General of Killaloe — died of torture, 24 April, Dublin Castle;
1601: John O'Kelly, priest — died, 15 May, in prison;
1601: Donagh O'Cronin, clerk — hanged and disembowelled, Cork;
1601: Bernard Moriarty, dean of Ardagh and Vicar-General of Dublin — having his thighs broken by soldiers, died in prison, Dublin.
1602: Dominic Collins, lay brother, S.J. — hanged, drawn, and quartered, 31 October, Youghal.
1602: To this year seems to belong the death of Eugene MacEgan, styled Bishop-designate of Ross, of which he was vicar Apostolic, mortally wounded while officiating in the Catholic army. There was no Catholic army on foot in 1606, at which date his name appears in the official list. He was buried at Timoleague.
The following Dominicans suffered under Elizabeth (1558-1603), but the dates are uncertain: Father MacFerge, prior, and twenty-four friars of Coleraine, thirty-two members of the community of Derry, slain there the same night, two priests and seven novices of Limerick and Kilmallock, assembled in 1602 with forty Benedictine, Cistercian, and other monks, at Scattery Island in the Shannon to be deported under safe conduct in a man-of-war, were cast overboard at sea.


But, remember, as Peter Hitchens told us, don't you dare compare Elizabeth I and Mary I! 

Pope St. John Paul II reminded the Irish bishops of their heritage during their ad limina visit to Rome in 1992:

Your ad Limina visit happily coincides with the Beatification of Archbishop Dermot O’Hurley, Francis Taylor, Margaret Ball and their companion Martyrs. Times have changed since that dark period in which the profession of faith often met with imprisonment, torture and death. But the essence of their witness, their fidelity to Christ and to the Church, is sublimely relevant today. The Martyrs challenge the faith which you and your people profess as heirs to the truths for which they gave their lives. They stimulate your fidelity to Christ, who is himself "the faithful witness" (Rev. 1:5). Their intercession and their heroic example serve as a point of reference for the commitment and dedication with which you personally are called to fulfil the episcopal ministry. The Beatification of the Martyrs reminds us all of "the one thing necessary" (Lk. 10:43), and is a source of encouragement to all those in Ireland whose generous and self–giving Christian life is a pledge of divine love and the best and most abiding guarantee of a society grounded in justice, truth and peace.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

St. John Fisher and His Biographer, Father Vincent McNabb

Father Vincent McNabb, OP, the Irish-born Dominican who championed the Distributist cause, died on June 17, 1943. CatholicAuthors.com offers this biography:

Father McNabb was born in 1868 in Portaferry, County Down, Ireland, within a few miles of the rock that covers the bones of St. Patrick. "My father," wrote Father McNabb, "was a master 'Mariner' (to give him his noble title) and my mother, a dressmaker." Vincent, who was proud he was the seventh son and the tenth of eleven children, spent his schooldays at the diocesan seminary of St. Malachy's College, Belfast. When asked by the editor of The Catholic Times to lend assistance to Ireland during one of the last crises, Father McNabb wrote in his scalpel-like way that both peoples alike, the people of England and the people of Ireland have been martyred by the same imperious few. He said that he loved Ireland like a mother and England like a wife.

Except for a period of study at the University of Louvain, Father McNabb's Dominican life had been identified with the English province for which he was ordained in 1891. On November 10, 1885, he had joined the novitiate of the English Dominicans at Woodchester in Gloucestershire. He walked about London in habit and army boots. A born controversialist, he often spoke in Hyde Park for the Catholic Evidence Guild. He had a fine sense of humor and a soaring eloquence. A zealous priest, he did a lot of work among the poor. In St. Pancras, London slum, he actually lived the extreme poverty enjoined by the gospel. An admirer wrote, while Father Vincent was still alive: "It is wonderful to see that happy lace with its look of smiling quizzical inquiry come from among a swirl of anxious self-absorbed London faces, the habit billowing from the lean, alert old figure like the drapes of winged victory.' He practiced a rigid asceticism. While he had a chair and a bed in his room he never used them. He either stood or knelt. There were just about four books in his room, a Bible, a Breviary, the Dominican constitutions, and the Summa of St. Thomas.

Father McNabb was a prolific writer:

He is the author of about thirty books. Among them are: Infallibility; The New Testament Witness to St. Peter; Oxford Conferences on Prayer; Oxford Conferences on Faith; Our Reasonable Service; Frontiers of Faith and Reason (thirty scholarly papers on Scripture); The Catholic Church and Philosophy; Thoughts Twice Dyed. Father McNabb's The Church and Reunion, shows a long interest in the subject. On this topic he wrote numerous articles between 1902 and 1936. An authority on economics, he had long been an advocate of the "Back-to-the-Land" movement and treats of it in his book, The Church and the Land. The city, he said, is the graveyard of religion and the machine age is the doom of mankind. His book Old Principles and the New Order has for its main theme the principle that true economics must rest on true faiths and morals. During the first World War, he learned practical farming in his leisure, as a recreation. He had been, also, a shining light in the Distributist Movement.

Father McNabb was, however, not only a polemic writer, but an informal essayist of undeniable charm, as shown particularly in: Francis Thompson and Other Essays; The Wayside, and the lovely Path of Prayer. Many people not of the Catholic faith read Blackfriars, the Dominican literary monthly published in Oxford, for which he was a regular contributor. His words are racy [?] of the soil. Writing with his capuche on, he used the back of old letters and envelopes for his manuscript. His motto was, "produce as much as you can, consume as little as you need." He urged the scrapping of all machinery and wanted people living as members of family-owned subsistence farms. The reader is never permitted to forget that here is a son of St. Dominic, a follower of St. Thomas. His vocabulary smacked of pre-Norman times, even in such a title as The Craft of Prayer. More recent books have been in the field of hagiography-on St. John Fisher or on St. Elizabeth of Portugal, the patroness of peace, who rode upon her little mule between embattled armies. In A Life of Jesus Christ Our Lord, hitherto shadowed places in the divine chronicle are illumined by a penetrating flash.

So Father McNabb died on the 408th anniversary of St. John Fisher's trial for treason in Westminster Hall. As Mediatrix Press, who reissued his 1935 biography of the Cardinal martyr describes it:

Fr. Vincent McNabb, O.P., a prolific Dominican known for his humility and preaching, takes advantage of the historical research of his contemporaries to weave the drama of St. John Fisher’s amazing life.

This is a short work, rather than a detailed historical analysis, that is both endlessly enjoyable as literature-even a work of art, yet at the same time pious and inspiring to faith. McNabb’s life of Fisher traces the saint’s early days from his childhood to his enrollment in Cambridge, his becoming a priest, a chaplain to Lady Margaret Beaufort, and at last, being appointed Bishop of Rochester, in which office he would be cruelly put to death by Henry VIII, the exemplar of tyrants.

Fisher is an important study for us today, not only because he died for the Catholic Faith, but also because he died for not believing as the monarch would have him believe. Henry VIII, in his quest to divorce his wife to marry his mistress, created the model of the Totalitarian state. Fisher is for us, a witness both of solid adherence to faith, as well as the courage to speak out when most others are content to get along. The perfect antidote to
Wolf Hall!

The original Sheed & Ward edition is online here.

On June 17, 1535, John Fisher was tried for treason, with Sir Richard Rich as the main witness against him, and have been found guilty, was sentenced to death by being hanged, drawn, and quartered. He spoke to the court:

My lords, I am here condemned before you of high treason for denial of the King’s supremacy over the Church of England, but by what order of justice I leave to God, Who is the searcher both of the king his Majesty’s conscience and yours; nevertheless, being found guilty, as it is termed, I am and must be contented with all that God shall send, to whose will I wholly refer and submit myself. And now to tell you plainly my mind, touching this matter of the king’s supremacy, I think indeed, and always have thought, and do now lastly affirm, that His Grace cannot justly claim any such supremacy over the Church of God as he now taketh upon him; neither hath (it) been seen or heard of that any temporal prince before his days hath presumed to that dignity; wherefore, if the king will now adventure himself in proceeding in this strange and unwonted case, so no doubt but he shall deeply incur the grievous displeasure of the Almighty, to the great damage of his own soul, and of many others, and to the utter ruin of this realm committed to his charge, wherefore, I pray God his Grace may remember himself in good time, and harken to good counsel for the preservation of himself and his realm and the quietness of all Christendom.

St. John Fisher, pray for us!