Sunday, July 22, 2018

St. Mary Magdalene and the English Reformation


Today is one of my name days honoring one of my three patron saints (St. Stephen, St. Anne, and St. Mary Magdalene)--it would be celebrated today as Feast but that today is Sunday and the Mass of every Sunday has precedence over Feasts. Parish churches named for St. Mary Magdalene or Magdalen may celebrate her Feast today, however. Pope Francis raised her feast day from a Memorial to a Feast in 2016, as she is "the Apostle to the Apostles" bringing the good news of the Resurrection of Jesus to them.

I've found some interesting research on devotion to St. Mary Magdalene among recusant Catholics: with the title “They have taken away my Lord”: Mary Magdalene, Christ’s Missing Body, and the Mass in Reformation England, Lisa McClain of Boise State University published an article in The Sixteenth Century Journal (Spring 2007):

In early modern Protestant England, traditional Catholic worship and sacraments, particularly the Mass, declined, and many Catholics feared for their salvation. At the same time, an increased veneration of Mary Magdalene focused no longer on penance and redemption, but on Mary’s discovery of Christ’s empty tomb. Magdalene’s distress at losing the corporeal body of Christ mirrored English Catholic anxiety over losing the body of Christ as contained in the Eucharist in the absence of regular Mass. English Catholics chose to revive and adapt this form of Magdalene symbolism to best meet their spiritual needs, thus emphasizing the many uses and flexibility of such a familiar symbol as Mary Magdalene and suggesting types and nuances of Magdalene worship that have yet to be fully investigated by scholars.

Other works, including a doctoral dissertation, focus on different views of St. Mary Magdalene during the Reformation era, Protestant and Catholic.

St. Robert Southwell, SJ, as the Poetry Foundation describes, wrote a major work on St. Mary Magdalene at the tomb of Jesus:

The second of Southwell’s prose works to appear in print was Mary Magdalen’s Funeral Tears. It had been circulating in manuscript before Gabriel Cawood published it in late 1591 with an author’s preface to the reader, and it, too, was written for one of the recusant circle: Dorothy Arundel, the daughter of Sir John Arundel of Lanherne; she later became a Benedictine nun. The work originated in a popular homily, usually attributed to Origen, on Saint John’s account of Mary Magdalen’s encounter with Christ on Easter morning. Southwell first read this homily in Italy, presumably in Italian and Latin (an Italian version survives in manuscript at Stonyhurst, attributed to Saint Bonaventura). In the Stonyhurst holograph there are fragments of Southwell’s attempts at an English translation; they show how difficult he found English composition after speaking Latin and Italian for ten years. The homily was available in England, printed in Latin around 1504 and in English translation in 1565. There are signs that Southwell knew and used this translation. Some writers suggest that he may also have known Valvasone’s poem Le lagrime di S. Maria Maddalena, but no clear evidence of this influence has been presented.

In Southwell’s hands the little homily grows to a work three times as long. It used to be thought that the book originated as a sermon, but this theory was based on ignorance of the source.
Mary Magdalen’s Funeral Tears is a meditation on Mary’s experience, cast largely in the form of a dialogue between Mary and the other persons present, the angels in the empty tomb, Christ, and the narrator. The homily provides the outline and some of the contents, but Southwell’s tone is different from that of his source, partly owing to the intensity, detail, and accomplishment of his prose but mostly to his conception of the incident as a love story. Southwell’s Mary is less the repentant sinner than the lover of Christ; she weeps tears of loss, not remorse. For her, Christ is the sum of all value, and in finding the empty tomb she experiences utter loss. All Mary’s thoughts and actions proceed from her love, and as Southwell presents her, she is a heroic woman.

There is also an allegorical tendency in the work, which Southwell found in his source but which he develops according to his own preoccupations. Allegorically speaking, Mary is the Christian soul, separated from the living Christian truth that is her only happiness; more specifically, she is an English Catholic woman, and the violence that threatens her is that of contemporary England.


St. Robert Southwell, pray for us!
St. Mary Magdalene, pray for us!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Papal Infallibility and Florovsky Week


The fathers of the First Vatican Council voted on July 18, 1870 to approve the statement on Papal Infallibility published in Pastor Aeternus. This dogmatic constitution states that the Pope has "full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the whole Church" (chapter 3:9); and that, when he

speaks ex cathedra, that is, when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church, he possesses, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed his Church to enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals [chapter 4:9]


On the back of the program of the inaugural Florovsky Week, which I attended (parts of it) last week, the Eighth Day Institute announces the topic for next year's meeting, "returning to the sources for Christian unity": THE PATRISTIC VIEW OF CHURCH AUTHORITY: BIBLE, POPE OR PENTARCHY?

Last week I attended the Banquet Tuesday night, gave my own talk on "Reformation and Counter-Reformation: The Catholic Mission in England and Why It Failed" on Wednesday afternoon, attended one evening Plenary Lecture, another afternoon session of three papers (all held in different buildings at Newman University), and the Saturday Plenary lectures at St. George's Orthodox Cathedral (three lectures and lunch). Although Martin Luther's doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone was the title focus, matched by the image, most of the discussion I heard was about the Patristic View of Salvation, theosis or divinization or participation in the divine nature. The Catechism of the Catholic Church quotes the First Letter of St. Peter, two Fathers of the Church and St. Thomas Aquinas in paragraph 460:

"For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God."79 "For the Son of God became man so that we might become God."80 "The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods."81 

78 2 Pt 1:4.
79 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 3, 19, 1: PG 7/1, 939.
80 St. Athanasius, De inc. 54, 3: PG 25, 192B.
81 St. Thomas Aquinas, Opusc. 57, 1-4.


Every event I attended was excellent and I look forward to next year's Florovsky Week.

In the meantime, the organizers are researching ways to publish the papers presented: three Plenary sessions by the designated Catholic (Kenneth Howell), Orthodox (Bradley Nassif), Protestant (Hans Boersma) with responses by the other two main speakers from Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday at Newman; three more Plenary presentations by those speakers on Saturday at St. George's; the opening banquet speech by Erin Doom, and 26 (twenty-six) academic papers!! I submitted my academic paper to the EDI for consideration, so we'll see what happens!

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.