Tuesday, September 17, 2019

St. Robert Bellarmine, Pray for Us!


Saint Robert Bellarmine is one of my favorite saints. I read The Art of Dying Well and The Mind's Ascent to God years ago; I've studied his involvement in the Galileo crisis; and recently I've noticed his efforts to explain the power of both popes and monarchs. As Franciscan Media describes his life's work:

When Robert Bellarmine was ordained in 1570, the study of Church history and the fathers of the Church was in a sad state of neglect. A promising scholar from his youth in Tuscany, he devoted his energy to these two subjects, as well as to Scripture, in order to systematize Church doctrine against the attacks of the Protestant Reformers. He was the first Jesuit to become a professor at Louvain.

His most famous work is his three-volume Disputations on the Controversies of the Christian Faith. Particularly noteworthy are the sections on the temporal power of the pope and the role of the laity. Bellarmine incurred the anger of monarchists in England and France by showing the divine-right-of-kings theory untenable. He developed the theory of the indirect power of the pope in temporal affairs; although he was defending the pope against the Scottish philosopher Barclay, he also incurred the ire of Pope Sixtus V.

Bellarmine was made a cardinal by Pope Clement VIII on the grounds that “he had not his equal for learning.” While he occupied apartments in the Vatican, Bellarmine relaxed none of his former austerities. He limited his household expenses to what was barely essential, eating only the food available to the poor. . . .


John M. Vella reviewed two books by theologian Stefania Tutino in a 2012 post for Homiletic & Pastoral Review. One book, Empire of Souls: Robert Bellarmine and the Christian Commonwealth published by Oxford University Press, explores Bellarmine's theories of papal power and the Divine Right of Kings:

Robert Bellarmine was one of the pillars of post-Reformation Catholicism: he was a celebrated theologian and a highly ranked member of the Congregations of the Inquisition and of the Index, the censor in charge of the Galileo affair. Bellarmine was also one of the most original political theorists of his time, and he participated directly in many of the political conflicts that agitated Europe between the end of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth century.

Stefania Tutino offers the first full-length study of the impact of Bellarmine's theory of the potestas indirecta in early modern Europe. Following the reactions to Bellarmine's theory across national and confessional boundaries, this book explores some of the most crucial political and theological knots in the history of post-Reformation Europe, from the controversy over the Oath of Allegiance to the battle over the Interdetto in Venice. The book sets those political and religious controversies against the background of the theological and institutional developments of the post-Tridentine Catholic Church. By examining the violent and at times surprising controversies originated by Bellarmine's theory, this book challenges some of the traditional assumptions regarding the theological shape of post-Tridentine Catholicism; it offers a fresh perspective on the centrality of the links between confessional affiliation and political allegiance in the development of the modern nation-states; and it contributes to our understanding of the development of 'modern' notions of power and authority.


The other book, which Professor Tutino translated, edited, and annotated, is a collection of St. Robert Bellarmine's works on power and authority: On Temporal and Spiritual Authority: On Laymen or Secular People; On the Temporal Power of the Pope Against William Barclay; On the Primary Duty of the Supreme Pontiff, is published by Liberty Fund.

Vella commented on Bellarmine's influence at the end of his reivew:

Despite his rehabilitation in the last quarter of the 19th century, Bellarmine’s intellectual legacy remains mixed. In one respect, at least, he was a product of his time because his vision of a res publica Christiana depended on a united Christendom that could never be restored. Yet, what is easy to see, in hindsight, was not so clear in the early 17th century. On the other hand, his defiance of royal absolutism, in defense of rule of law and religious truth, is far from outdated. Indeed, the very modern assertion of state power only justified further the papal need to secure its political independence by maintaining its temporal possessions. Yet, the Papal States could not secure this independence because the pope depended on other nations for their defense. This dilemma was resolved satisfactorily when the Italian state formally recognized the Vatican as a sovereign entity in 1929. The concordat, negotiated by Pius XI, secured for the papacy, the freedom to exercise its spiritual duties. Furthermore, Bellarmine’s effort to limit spiritual and political power to their proper jurisdiction, was a continuation of, rather than a departure from, the long Scholastic tradition that formed the basis of Jesuit political ideas. As Harro Höpfl observed in Jesuit Political Thought, “In Jesuit political theory…legitimate government was limited government.” Given the modern state’s insatiable hunger for power, Bellarmine’s political philosophy has not lost its relevance.

St. Robert Bellarmine, Pray for Us!

Monday, September 16, 2019

King James II and VII, RIP


On September 16, 1701, the deposed King of England, Ireland and Scotland died in exile. John Callow, writing for the BBC History Magazine webpage History Extra, describes the last years of James in France, at St. Germain-en-Laye:

As it was, James II had more and more time on his hands. Stripped of his military and diplomatic duties, and progressively less able to hunt as his sixth decade wore on, his need for rewarding activity and a set routine found a fresh expression in religious devotions, pilgrimages, and patronage. Yet this often took him away from the mainstream of Louis XIV’s increasingly intolerant vision of French Catholicism. He was enraptured by the starkly brutal form of monasticism practised by Trappist monks, who rejected the world – in all its forms – and actively desired death as a release from sin.

James also, probably unwittingly, came close to condoning heresy through his contacts among the Jansenists. Jansenism was a new movement within Catholicism that laid a greater stress upon original sin, as a cause of damnation, and the role of God’s grace and predestination in securing salvation. As such, it appeared to bring together what James had learned of Protestantism as a youth in England, and his experience of Catholicism on the Continent, as a soldier in the armies of France and Spain.

James knew, respected and sought to assist Antoine Arnauld, the intellectual powerhouse of the movement, whose unorthodox religious ideals and polemics aimed against William III as the “new Absalom, new Herod, new Nero” and the “new Cromwell”, had managed to render him a fugitive from both the French and Dutch authorities. To the horror of Madame de Maintenon, Louis XIV’s wife and an increasing power behind the throne, King James read books by Jansenist authors that were otherwise banned by the bishop of Paris. His protection and patronage of disgraced Jansenists stood in stark opposition to the policies of both the Gallican church under Louis XIV, and his wife’s court at St Germain after his death in 1701. . . .

James also wrote his memoirs, which Callow appreciates for their detail and vividness when describing military action:

Through these memoirs, we see the young James riding to war on a borrowed horse, buckling on his armour before a surprise attack, and meeting with fortune-tellers and wandering priests on clay-churned roads and in tattered army camps. When he writes about soldiers, they are real people, rather than faceless masses; they grumble about their lack of rations, long to return home to their families and fight over looted goods as readily as they do for the sake of honour or ideology.

Viewed from this angle, the final exile actually provided James with an unprecedented freedom for an early modern head of state, to reflect upon the trajectory and the wider meaning of his political career. It was not by chance that, in a court dominated by middle-aged and elderly adherents, the supreme form of expression chosen by the king should be the memoir. In this manner, James refashioned himself as a new ‘King David’, to be remembered “in all his afflictions”, while his image-makers displayed him, after the collapse of his military hopes at the sea battle of La Hogue, as a disinterested and wronged man of letters. Lost in his thoughts, one engraver pictured him poring over his books, oblivious to the pet dog jumping up at his arm chair, desperate to gain his attention. The crown of England is set aside on the table beside him and a new crown of thorns fastened by his ungrateful subjects to his care-worn brow.

This is not an unthinking or heavy-handed choice of imagery, and the king’s memoirs and works of religious devotion are not the products of an untutored, dull or unimaginative mind. . . .

John Callow's biography of James II in exile was published by The History Press in 2017. Callow also wrote a biography of James, the Duke of York before his exile, The Making of King James II: The Formative Years of a Fallen King.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Father John Floyd, SJ, RIP--and his Brother Henry

According to Edwin Hubert Burton in the Catholic Encyclopedia, Father John Floyd, SJ, was a Catholic missionary in Recusant era England and a controversialist of that era, writing many works under several pseudonyms:

English missionary, wrote under the names Flud, Daniel à Jesu, Hermannus Loemelius, George White, Annosus Fidelis Verimentanus, and under the initials J. R. Some of his works have been erroneously attributed to Robert Jennison, S. J. He was b. in Cambridgeshire in 1572; d. at St.-Omer, 15 Sept. 1649. he was educated at the Jesuit College at Eu, then at the English College at Reims (17 March, 1588) and finally the English College in Rome (1590), where he entered the Society of Jesus, 1 Nov., 1592. Nothing is known about his ordination, but in 1606 he was a missionary priest in England. On 6 April in that year he was arrested at Worcester while attempting to visit Ven. Edward Oldcorne (sic) who was to suffer martyrdom next day. Having been imprisoned for twelve months he, with forty-six other priests, was banished for life. He then spent four years teaching at St.-Omer, though Foley (Records, IV, 238), is mistaken in supposing he published any controversial works at that time. 

Then (1913) Venerable Edward Oldcorne, SJ was beatified in 1929.

On 31 July, 1609, he was professed of the four vows, and soon after returned to England, where he laboured on the mission for many years, being often captured, but effecting his escape by buying off the pursuivants. In 1612 he published his first work, "The Overthrow of the Protestant Pulpit Babels", in which he replied to Crawshaw's "Jesuit Gospel". He was in return answered by Sir Edward Hoby in his "A Counter-Snarl for Ishmael Rabshakeh a Cycropedian Lycaonite, being an answer to a Roman Catholic who writes himself J. R." Father Floyd countered in 1614 with "Purgatorie's Triumph over Hell, maugre the barking of Cerberus in Syr Edward Hobyes Counter Snarle". This controversy closed with Hoby's rejoinder, "A Curry-comb for a Cox-combe", published in 1615. Father Floyd next turned his attention to Marc' Antonio de Dominis, formerly Archbishop of Spilatro, who had apostacized and become Protestant dean of Windsor. Against him Father Floyd wrote four works: "Synopsis Apostasiæ Marci Antonii de Dominis, olim Archepiscopi Spalatensis, nunc Apostatæ, ex ipsiusmet libro delineata" (Antwerp 1617). It was translated into English by Father Henry Hawkins, S.J., in 1617, and again by Dr. John Fletcher in 1828. "Hypocrisis Marci Antonii de Dominis detecta sui censura in ejus libros de Republicâ Ecclesiasticâ" (Antwerp, 1620); "Censura ex Librorum X de Republicâ Ecclesiasticâ Marci Antonii de Dominis" (Antwerp 1620, Cologne, 1621); "Monarchiæ Ecclesiasticæ ex scriptus M. Antonii de Dominis Archepiscopi Spalatensis Demonstratio, duobus libri comprehensa" (Cologne, 1622). All four works appeared under the signature Fidelis Annosus Verimentanus.

His brother Henry was also a Jesuit missionary in England, who died of natural causes in London about nine years before John, according to the Dictionary of National Biography:

FLOYD, HENRY (1563–1641), Jesuit, elder brother of Father John Floyd [q. v.], born in Cambridgeshire in 1563, received his education in the English College of Douay during its temporary removal to Rheims. On 8 May 1589, being then a deacon, he was sent with other students by Dr. Richard Barret, president of the college, to assist in commencing the new English College founded by Father Parsons at Valladolid (Records of the English Catholics, i. 220, 224). For a time he was stationed at the ‘residence’ or seminary established by Parsons at Lisbon. He was probably ordained priest in 1592, and he defended universal theology with great applause at Seville on 20 Feb. 1592–3. From Lisbon he crossed over to England about 1597, and for nineteen years he was chaplain to Sir John Southcote. In 1599 he entered the Society of Jesus, and in 1618 was professed of the four vows. He underwent many vicissitudes owing to his great zeal, and at various times was incarcerated in Newgate, the Clink, and the Fleet prisons in London, and in Framlingham and Winchester gaols. On James I's accession, being sent into banishment with many other priests, he returned to Lisbon, but soon revisited England, and again fell into the hands of the pursuivants. After serving the mission in the London district for many years, he died in London on 7 March 1640–1.

The Sir John Southcote mentioned as the patron of Father Henry Floyd, SJ, must be Sir John Southcote, the son of an MP and Judge, also named John:

Southcote was probably the John Southcote of Bodmin who in 1544 helped Tregonwell to buy and sell land in the south-west: in 1549 he was to be of similar assistance to Henry Chiverton. He bought land himself near London and late in life settled in Essex. Mary promoted him serjeant and Elizabeth made him a judge, in which capacity he revised the bill settling the form of consecration for bishops before its enactment in 1566 (8 Eliz. c.1) and took part in the conference in 1577 on how to deal with recusancy. According to his descendants he shared their Catholicism and resigned his office rather than condemn a priest, retiring to his house at Merstham in Surrey ‘where for three years he led a penitential life and happily ended his days’, this, however, conflicts with evidence of his continuing to serve as a judge until a year before his death at Witham. His son John was reported as having attended mass in 1584 and his daughters married into Catholic families, but his own conformity is borne out by his retention as a justice of the peace in all the home counties after 1564.4

The Southcote Family is included in Volume One of The Troubles of Our Catholic Forefathers Related by Themselves edited by--you guessed it--a Jesuit, Father John Morris, SJ (1826-1893).

Saturday, September 14, 2019

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross


In the September/October 2013 issue of the now-defunct OSV's The Catholic Answer, I answered the question, "What are the feasts of the Cross and Our Lady of Sorrows?":

The feast of the Triumph of the Cross was observed in Rome in the late seventh century to commemorate the recovery of the Holy Cross by Byzantine Emperor Heraclius in 629. St. Helena, Emperor Constantine’s mother, had found the True Cross in Jerusalem in the fourth century, but the Persians had captured it and only returned it after Heraclius defeated the Persian king Khosrau II. The emperor returned it to Jerusalem, and this feast recalls that event. As he approached the holy city, dressed in fine robes and festooned with jewels, the emperor found himself unable to process further until Zacharias, Patriarch of Jerusalem, told Heraclius to humble himself by removing his imperial regalia and proceeding as a barefoot pilgrim.

But on a deeper level, of course, the feast recalls Jesus’ triumph over death and the fulfillment of His great statement, “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself” (Jn 12:32, which serves as the Communion Antiphon on this feast). The liturgy of the Mass for this feast includes both triumph and sorrow in the readings and prayers, since Jesus both suffers His passion and defeats sin and death. From the Book of Numbers (21:4b-9), the first reading recalls the story of Moses and the bronze Seraph, raised on a pole — when the people of Israel, who had been grumbling against God for their sufferings, looked up to the serpent, they were healed of the serpent bites God had sent to afflict them. . . .


You may still read the article on the Our Sunday Visitor website here

This year, since the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows is superseded by the celebration of Sunday in the Ordinary Form of the Latin Rite*, we won't have the liturgical celebration of that feast, but since September is traditionally devoted to Our Lady of Sorrows, it's still very appropriate to remember her:

Sept. 15 then recalls the sorrow of Our Lady at the foot of the Cross as the fulfillment of Simeon’s prophecy at the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple: “(and you yourself a sword shall pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Lk 2:35). The Gospel for Mass that day may be either the description of “his mother and the disciple . . . whom he loved” standing by the cross of Jesus (Jn 19:25-27) or the Presentation in the Temple (Lk 2:33-35).

The sequence Stabat Mater — often sung while praying the Stations of the Cross — may be chanted after the Psalm. According to Lumen Gentium (the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church), “the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross, where she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, grieving exceedingly with her only begotten Son, uniting herself with a maternal heart with His sacrifice, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this Victim which she herself had brought forth” (No. 58).


*In the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite, September 15, 2019 is the Fourteenth Sunday After Pentecost with the Commemoration of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which means the Collect and Post-Communion prayers from that liturgy will be prayed.

Several more of the articles I wrote for OSV's The Catholic Answer are collected here.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Barking Abbey and Its Female Scholars

From Eleanor Parker (A Clerk of Oxford) at History Today:

‘It is asked of all who hear this work that they do not revile it because a woman translated it. That is no reason to despise it, nor to disregard the good in it.’ . . .

The work she asks us not to disregard is a narrative of the life of Edward the Confessor, written in Anglo-Norman French (‘the false French of England’, the nun modestly calls it). Its author was an educated woman, able to turn a Latin source into engagingly chatty French verse and Barking Abbey must have been a congenial environment for her. Founded in the seventh century, Barking was one of the foremost nunneries in the country, a wealthy abbey which was home to many well-connected aristocratic and royal women. Its abbesses were frequently appointed from the sisters and daughters of kings and, around the time our nun wrote her Vie d’Edouard le Confesseur, Thomas Becket’s sister Mary – herself a woman of literary interests – was made abbess of Barking in compensation for her brother’s murder.

Across its long history of more than 850 years, Barking Abbey was a centre for women’s learning. It has been described as ‘perhaps the longest-lived ... institutional centre of literary culture for women in British history’ and it had a strong literary and scholarly tradition that spanned the Middle Ages. In the early medieval period, authors such as Aldhelm and Goscelin of St Bertin wrote learned Latin works for the nuns of Barking; later, several nuns composed their own poetry and prose – even their own plays. In the 12th century, when women were increasingly becoming patrons, readers and, in some cases, authors of literary texts, Barking produced more than one talented writer. The first female author in England whose name we know, Clemence of Barking, was a nun there; she wrote an accomplished Life of St Catherine of Alexandria, a saint associated with female learning.
Barking Abbey, according to British History Online, was an important house of women religious and it survived during the Dissolution of the Monasteries until the end of the year 1539:
The abbess of Barking had precedence over other abbesses, and she was one of the four who, holding of the king by barony, were summoned (fn. 60) with the bishops and abbots to do military service under Henry III and Edward I. (fn. 61) The chief officer of the convent was the prioress, and the second the high cellaress. Besides these there were also the kitchener, the under-cellaress, two chantresses, two sub-prioresses and two fratresses. All are mentioned in The Charthe (fn. 62) longynge to the Office of the Celeresse of the Monastery of Barkinge, which treats in great detail of the rents set apart for her, her duties, and the allowances of food and money to be made by her to the nuns, both at ordinary times and at special feasts, anniversaries and seasons. Thirty-seven ladies of the convent were to be provided for at the time when it was drawn up, and of these some were to have a double share. The prioress, high cellaress and kitchener were always among the 'doubles'; and on some occasions also other officers, probably in the order of their rank in the abbey.

No event of importance is recorded in connexion with the dissolution. The net value of the abbey is returned in the Valor as £862 12s. 5½d.; another account (fn. 63) giving this as £862 12s. 5¾d. and the gross value as £1,084 6s. 2¼d. It was third in order of wealth among the nunneries; Sion, a foundation of not much more than a century, coming first, Shaftesbury second, and Wilton fourth. Audeley, the chancellor, writing (fn. 64) to Cromwell in September, 1535, asks that the visitation might be postponed that he might speak about it; but neither the purpose nor the result of his request are known. The abbey was finally surrendered (fn. 65) before Dr. William Petre, the royal commissioner, in the chapter-house, on 14 November, 1539. Twelve days later pensions (fn. 66) were granted to the nuns. The abbess received the large allowance of 200 marks yearly, and smaller sums were assigned to thirty other nuns: Thomasina Jenney, Dorothy Fitzlewes, Agnes Townesend, Margaret Scrowpe, Joan Fyncham, Margery Ballard, Martha Fabyan, Ursula Wentworth, Joan Drurye, Elizabeth Wyott, Agnes Horsey, Suzanna Suliarde, Margaret Cotton, Gabriel Shelton, Margery Paston, Elizabeth Badcok, Agnes Buknam, Katharine Pollard, Anne Snowe, Margaret Bramston, Mary Tyrell, Elizabeth Prist, Audrey Mordaunt, Winifred Mordaunt, Elizabeth Banbrik, Margaret Kempe, Alice Hyde, Lucy Long, Matilda Gravell and Margaret Grenehyll. Most of these, including the abbess, were still living and in receipt of their pensions under Philip and Mary. (fn. 67)

The book cover above is of Barking Abbey and Medieval Literary Culture: Authorship and Authority in a Female Community, Edited by Jennifer N. Brown, Donna Alfano Bussell and published by Boydell & Brewer.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

John Locke on Tolerating "Papists"

From the Smithsonian Magazine website:

Every so often an unknown letter or document signed by Locke is found, but identifying a substantive work is extremely rare. The manuscript also reveals something new about Locke. “Locke is supposed to have never tolerated Catholics,” Walmsley tells Alison Flood at The Guardian. “All his published work suggested that he would never even consider this as a possibility. This manuscript shows him taking an initial position that’s startling for him and for thinkers of his time—next to no one suggested this at this point. It shows him to be much more tolerant in certain respects than was ever previously supposed.”

This work was written before “A Letter Concerning Toleration,” one of the essays that led Thomas Jefferson to advocate for the separation of church and state in the U.S. Constitution. Many of the ideas found in the letter are proposed in the newly discovered manuscript. “This manuscript is the origin and catalyst for momentous and foundational ideas of western liberal democracy – which did include Catholics,” Walmsley argues.

Political scientist Cole Simmons says that the manuscript, which is in the form of two lists, shows Locke brainstorming. “Everyone kind of has down that Locke doesn’t and isn’t willing to tolerate Catholics, so the surprising thing is that he entertained tolerating Catholics for some time,” Simmons explains in the press release. “But the reasons for tolerating and not tolerating are very Lockean, in either respect: When he gives reasons for tolerating Catholics, all of the reasons are to the prince’s interest—basically, if [toleration] can benefit the Commonwealth or the prince, you should tolerate Catholics. And the second list is ‘if not tolerating Catholics will benefit the prince or the Commonwealth, you shouldn’t tolerate Catholics.’”


Here is an image of the document from St. John's College. Here is a link to an article about the document in The Historical Journal published by Cambridge University Press. National Review provides more context in calling for a revival in "Lockean Liberalism".

Some materials to read and ponder. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Jesuits Land in Virginia: A Spanish Mission

You might remember several years ago the news about graves found in the ruins of the Church of England chapel in the Jamestown Colony: there were indications that one of the men buried there, Captain Gabriel Archer, might have have been a secret Catholic or a crypto-Catholic, as he had what researchers thought was a reliquary. I haven't seen any update to this story or new information about the provenance of that object.

But here's another story about Catholics in Virginia: today is the anniversary of the landing of Jesuit missionaries in the lower Chesapeake Peninsulas to establish the Ajacan Mission in 1570--37 years before the English colony at Jamestown. According to this website the mission was:

Located possibly on the Rappahannock or the Potomac River but more likely between the King and the Queen Creeks where they empty into the York River, this mission was the result of a second attempt by Spain to extend its domination of North America into the Chesapeake Bay, or as they called it, Bahía de Santa María, or Bahía de Madre de Dios.

The first attempt had been made in August 1566, when two Dominican friars and thirty-seven Spanish and Portuguese soldiers sailed to that area, called Ajacán by their guide and interpreter, Don Luis de Velasco, a converted, hispaniolized Algon­quian Indian who had been taken from the area on an earlier voyage in 1561. While searching for a landing site, Don Luis claimed to not recognize the sur­round­ings, and after a strong storm arrived, this first attempt was abandoned.

On 10 September 1570, the members of the second colonizing expedition, after making their first landfall probably at either Cape Henry, Point Comfort, or the southeastern tip of present-day Newport News, decided to disembark at what may have been College Creek, just east of James­town, and travel by smaller boat and foot to their preferred site on the York River. The colonists consisted of two Jesuit priests, including Father Juan Baptista de Segura as leader, one other priest, three Jesuit brothers, three lay catechists, the young son of a Spanish colonist from Santa Elena (present-day Parris Island, South Carolina), and Don Luis de Velasco, once again as guide and interpreter. They arrived at an inopportune time in that the Indians whose territory they chose to settle were experiencing a drought, and food was in short supply. Having to rely on the local inhabitants for sustenance, many of whom had left the area to search for food elsewhere, the Jesuits soon became more of an irritant than an inspiration, especially to Don Luis.

Except for the young son of a Spanish colonist, Alonso de Olmos, the rest of the party was murdered either by Don Luis or the nearby Native American Indians on February 9, 1571. A later Spanish military expedition rescued de Olmos, tried to find Don Luis, and tried & execution some of the Indians for the murder of Jesuits.

After receiving a report from Father Juan Rogel in 1572 about the situation, Jesuit Superior General, Saint Francis Borgia determined not to pursue missions in the area since the Spanish military didn't intend to colonize the region either. That had been an issue when Father de Segura at first wanted to go to Virginia, according to this website, because he did not the military presence to force the Indians to become Catholic (influenced by example of Bartolomé de las Casas):

Segura insisted, against the advice of Florida governor Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, that the Jesuits did not need military protection on their mission. He instead placed his faith in Don Luís, who promised that the land he called Ajacán would be rich in potential converts and natural resources.

The Cause for Beatification and Canonization for the eight martyrs--Fathers Juan Bautista de Segura, Jesuit vice provincial of Havana, Cuba, and Luis de Quiros, former head of the Jesuit college among the Moors in Spain, three were Jesuit brothers and three novices--was opened in the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, Virginia in 2003. 

Monday, September 9, 2019

Newman's Four Last Things

As promised, I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show bright and early this morning (6:50 a.m. Central/ 7:50 a.m. Eastern) to talk with Matt Swaim about Blessed John Henry Newman's poem The Dream of Gerontius--specifically in the time we have available about how Newman depicts Gerontius's happy death; the Soul of Gerontius being more truly Gerontius than he was on earth, the Christological doctrine the Choirs of Angels extol as the Demons express their emptiness and chaos; the immediacy of judgement; the Soul's rejoicing at entering Purgatory and being prepared to enter Heaven.

Gerontius is a good Catholic on his deathbed in Part I of the poem; he is prepared for death with a priest and friends with him, but he feels some fear and abandonment. He feels "a chill at heart" and a "strange innermost abandonment" so he asks his friends to pray for him because he cannot. After they've prayed for him with age-old prayers for the dead, he regains strength and can pray himself again:

Firmly I believe and truly
God is Three and God is One;
and I next acknowledge duly
manhood taken by the Son.
And I trust and hope most fully
in that manhood crucified;
and each thought and deed unruly
do to death, as he has died.
Simply to his grace and wholly
light and life and strength belong,
and I love supremely, solely,
him the holy, him the strong. . . .


And I hold in veneration,
for the love of him alone,
Holy Church as his creation,
and her teachings as his own.

And I take with joy whatever
Now besets me, pain or fear,
And with a strong will I sever
All the ties which bind me here.
Adoration ay be given,
with and through the angelic host,
to the God of earth and heaven,
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. . . .


Finally the priest prays for him at the departure of his soul from his body--and Newman has adapted prayers that I find at the back of my 1962 Roman Missal--and Gerontius dies and then awakens in the afterlife, his soul able to think and perceive without a body, without the senses as he used them on earth, and yet feeling more himself than he did on earth, with greater freedom:


I went to sleep; and now I am refresh'd,
A strange refreshment: for I feel in me
An inexpressive lightness, and a sense
Of freedom, as I were at length myself,
And ne'er had been before. How still it is!
I hear no more the busy beat of time,
No, nor my fluttering breath, nor struggling pulse;
Nor does one moment differ from the next.
I had a dream; yes:—some one softly said
"He's gone;" and then a sigh went round the
room.
And then I surely heard a priestly voice
Cry "Subvenite;" and they knelt in prayer.
I seem to hear him still; but thin and low,
And fainter and more faint the accents come,
As at an ever-widening interval.
Ah ! whence is this? What is this severance?
This silence pours a solitariness
Into the very essence of my soul;
And the deep rest, so soothing and so sweet,
Hath something too of sternness and of pain.
For it drives back my thoughts upon their spring
By a strange introversion, and perforce
I now begin to feed upon myself,
Because I have nought else to feed upon
.

The Soul tries to comprehend the timelessness of his new being and location--then his Guardian Angel comes to help him understand and to guide him to judgment:

Thou art not let [prevented]; but with extremest speed
Art hurrying to the Just and Holy Judge:
For scarcely art thou disembodied yet.
Divide a moment, as men measure time,
Into its million-million-millionth part,
Yet even less than that the interval
Since thou didst leave the body; and the priest
Cried "Subvenite," and they fell to prayer;
Nay, scarcely yet have they begun to pray.

They pass by the Demons on their way to the Judgment Seat and the Soul realizes how impotent they really are, having feared them so in life. The five Choirs of Angelicals sing, culminating in the Christological statement, summarizing the truths of the Incarnation and the Paschal Mystery:

Praise to the Holiest in the height
And in the depth be praise:
In all His words most wonderful;
Most sure in all His ways!

O loving wisdom of our God!
When all was sin and shame,
A second Adam to the fight
And to the rescue came.

O wisest love! that flesh and blood
Which did in Adam fail,
Should strive afresh against the foe,
Should strive and should prevail; 


And that a higher gift than grace
Should flesh and blood refine,
God's Presence and His very Self,
And Essence all-divine.

O generous love! that He who smote
In man for man the foe,
The double agony in man
For man should undergo;

And in the garden secretly,
And on the cross on high,
Should teach His brethren and inspire
To suffer and to die.


The Soul rushes to see Jesus the Judge, hears his fate and returns chastened and ready to endure purgation. Newman depicts purgatory, not as a fire, but as a "golden prison" with souls ready to greet him; as entering night to be awakened by day. The Soul's Guardian Angel gently lowers him into the waters, the lake of purgatory, promising prayers in Heaven and Masses on Earth:

Farewell, but not for ever! brother dear,
Be brave and patient on thy bed of sorrow;
Swiftly shall pass thy night of trial here,
And I will come and wake thee on the morrow.



"The Dream" for/of Gerontius may have been his life on earth--as Newman said in his Apologia pro Vita Sua about his youth, he "thought life might be a dream, or I an Angel, and all this world a deception, my fellow-angels by a playful device concealing themselves from me, and deceiving me with the semblance of a material world." 

Gerontius's real life has just begun because now he knows the reality of his life with God. He has also learned how that "dream", his life on earth has prepared him for this new, eternal life!

While it's a great work of art--that's why Gordon, Swinburne, Kingsley, Doyle and many others were moved to praise it whether or not they believed in the Four Last Things as the Catholic Church has taught them--it still has a didactic purpose, reminding Catholics:

1) To pray for a happy death, receiving the Last Rites and prayers of the Church;
2) To live so as to be ready to die, because we know neither the day nor the hour;
3) To pray for our beloved dead; attend Rosaries and Funerals in our parishes whenever we can, even if we don't know the deceased; to provide for Masses for ourselves to be said after death, etc.
4) To live and die as though we believe in the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

September 9, 1587: A Catholic Martyr from Scotland

Blessed George Douglas is one of the 85 Martyrs of England and Wales, executed on September 9, 1587. He was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and according to Volume 1 of the Lives of the English Martyrs, 1583-1588, edited by Edwin H. Burton, D.D. and J.H. Pollen, SJ, he was aided in his exile in France by Mary, Queen of Scots:

George Douglas was of the house of Douglas of Bongedward now Bonjedburgh, of which family the Earl of Angus was the head. He was born in Edinburgh somewhere about 1540, his father John Douglas being a burgess of that city. Archibald Douglas, "the Parson of Glasgow," was his kinsman and coeval ; they were companions as scholars under John Douglas, sometime Archbishop of St. Andrews.

From the earlier examination [in 1570-1571] we learn that George Douglas ''was sometime a 'graye Freer' [sic: Friar] in Edinborough [sic]". About the year 1556 he betook himself to France where he tarried six years, and was maintained upon the exhibition (or pension) of the Queen of Scots as long as he tarried there. He was meantime made priest at Notre Dame ''by the testimonial of the Queen of Scots."

Then, when Father Douglas had gone to England as a missionary priest, he wrote to his patron in 1570-1571 (she had been in Elizabeth I's "care" since 1568) and his letter brought him to the attention of the authorities (he had been serving as tutor in a couple of households):

This he did, and his Latin letter, which is not signed, is still preserved. The letter is little more than an expression of his gratitude to Mary 'because you nourished me in the bountiful academy of Paris," and of sympathetic consolation in her trials, "with the assistance of the divine grace, your sorrow will be turned into joy". But the letter was seized and brought to Francis Cave, a Justice, in whose judgment its writer "seemeth to myselyke the usage of the quene's majestic towardes the quene of Scottes, & also of our relligion used here in Inglond contrary to the honour of the quene's majestic & the laws of her realm". He accordingly examined Douglas, and sent the examination with the letter up to London to the Earl of Huntingdon, Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire, with the suggestion that if he "confer with Mr. Secretary or some other of the Council, & peruse his letters, I think you will find that he deserves punishment". Meanwhile Cave detained Douglas in the jail.

Mary was held in South Yorkshire in 1570-1571. Evidently, Douglas was released. Burton and Pollen believe that the Father George Douglas described above with his connection to Mary, Queen of Scots, was the same Father George Douglas executed on September 9, 1587 in York:

This martyr's name is found in Wilson's Catalogue, the appendix to his English Martyrologe, published at St. Omer's in 1608, and is included in nearly all subsequent lists of the martyrs. What is known for certain concerning him is found in the Collectanea of Father Christopher Grene, S.J., who tells that he suffered at York on 9 September, 1587. The substance of what Father Grene had ascertained is as follows. At Ripon George Douglas fell into a discussion in which he asserted that the offspring of priests are illegitimate, and denied that the State bishops were real bishops. For this he was denounced, examined and imprisoned for about the space of a year. He was put in the stocks and then kept in irons in a dark dungeon. . . .

Finally tried, and refusing to accept Queen Elizabeth I as the supreme governor of the Church in England, he was condemned to death. Blessed George Douglas endured a horrific execution:

Commending himself unto God, he was cast off the ladder, and the sheriff commanded to cut the rope. The topman not being hasty, one of the bailiffs with his halbert burst the rope asunder, and the martyr fell on his back, and quickly sat up. Then came two butcherly slaves, the one took hold of his feet, and the other of the rope, and so strangling him, and trailing him to the fire, ripped him. He offered to put his hand to the place, and to rise up, but was held down for all his struggling. His tongue was heard to go. Thus cruelly this holy martyr died, and was executed for the profession of the Catholic faith, September 9, 1587. He is described as "a learned man, sharp in speech ; a stout champion, who handled Catholic controversy with much force. Marvellous stout, and zealous to suffer anything for Christ's sake."

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today at Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite, we will celebrate the Thirteen Sunday after Pentecost and commemorate the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Orthodox Christians will celebrate "The Nativity of Our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary". According to the Orthodox Church in America website:

The Most Holy Virgin Mary was born at a time when people had reached such a degree of moral decay that it seemed altogether impossible to restore them. People often said that God must come into the world to restore faith and not permit the ruin of mankind.

The Son of God chose to take on human nature for the salvation of mankind, and chose as His Mother the All-Pure Virgin Mary, who alone was worthy to give birth to the Source of purity and holiness.

The Nativity of Our Most Holy Lady Theotokos and Ever Virgin Mary is celebrated by the Church as a day of universal joy. Within the context of the Old and the New Testaments, the Most Blessed Virgin Mary was born on this radiant day, having been chosen before the ages by Divine Providence to bring about the Mystery of the Incarnation of the Word of God. She is revealed as the Mother of the Savior of the World, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

The feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as this University of Dayton post notes, came from the Eastern Church to the West:

The earliest document commemorating this feast comes from the sixth century. It is generally believed that this feast originated in Jerusalem since there is evidence, in the fifth century, of a church dedicated to St. Anne, located north of the Temple in the neighborhood of the Pool of Bethesda. Sofronius, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, affirmed in the year 603 that this was the location of Mary's birth. After the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD, the cult of the Blessed Virgin Mary increased significantly. This, combined with the influence of the Apocrypha, may have been a factor in the increase of popular devotion of the people toward Mary

It is generally believed that the date of September 8 was chosen to celebrate the Nativity of Mary since the civil year began in Constantinople on September 1. Scholars believe that this date was chosen since it was symbolic that the "beginning" of the work of salvation should be commemorated near to the beginning of the new year. The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary was later fixed at December 8, nine months prior. This feast day was introduced in Rome from the Eastern Church in the seventh century . The Syro-Sicilian Pope St. Sergius I, who reigned from 687-701, prescribed a litany and procession be part of the liturgical celebration of this feast day. Paschasius Radbertus (d.860) wrote that this feast of Mary's Nativity was being preached throughout the universal church and it became a holy day of obligation for the west by the year 1007.

The primary theme portrayed in the liturgical celebration of this feast day is that the world had been in the darkness of sin and with the arrival of Mary begins a glimmer of light. That light which appears at Mary's holy birth preannounces the arrival of Christ, the Light of the World. Her birth is the beginning of a better world: "Origo mundi melioris." The antiphon for the Canticle of Zechariah at Morning Prayer expressed these sentiments in the following way: "Your birth, O Virgin Mother of God, proclaims joy to the whole world, for from you arose the glorious Sun of Justice, Christ our God; He freed us from the age-old curse and filled us with holiness; he destroyed death and gave us eternal life."

The Catholic Encyclopedia has more detail about the liturgical development of the feast, including the homilies promoting the feast by the 11th century bishop of Chartres, St. Fulbert. As the photo above shows, Giotto included the birth of Mary in his cycle of the Life of the Blessed Virgin in the Scrovegni chapel.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Preview: Gerontius and the Four Last Things

Matt Swaim and I will talk about Blessed John Henry Newman's great poem about the Four Last Things: Death, Judgement, Heaven, and Hell on the Son Rise Morning Show, Monday September 9 in our Santo Subito Series! (6:50 a.m. Central/7:50 a.m. Eastern)

The plot of Blessed John Henry Newman's poem The Dream of Gerontius is simple:

1) Gerontius is on his deathbed and receives Last Rites and prays before he dies
2) Gerontius dies and experiences the afterlife as a disembodied Soul
3) Gerontius' Soul meets his Guardian Angel
4) His Soul encounters the demons of Hell on his way to Judgment
5) The Soul hears the choirs of heavenly Angels on his way to Judgment
5) The Soul is judged and sent to Purgatory
6) The Soul's Guardian Angel deposits him in Purgatory and promises to come back to convey him to Heaven

Newman wrote this poem, the longest he'd ever written, on 52 scraps of paper between January 17 and February 7, 1865. One of his biographers, Wilfrid Ward, describes its composition:

Now, after the abandonment of the Oxford scheme gave him leisure for it, he set down in dramatic form the vision of a Christian's death on which his imagination had been dwelling. The writing of it was a sudden inspiration, and his work was begun in January and completed in February 1865. "On the 17th of January last," he writes to Mr. Allies in October, "it came into my head to write it, I really can't tell how. And I wrote on till it was finished on small bits of paper, and I could no more write anything else by willing it than I could fly." To another correspondent [The Rev. John Telford, priest at Ryde] also, who was fascinated by the Dream, and longed to have the picture it gave still further filled in, he wrote:

"You do me too much honour if you think I am to see in a dream everything that is to be seen in the subject dreamed about. I have said what I saw. Various spiritual writers see various aspects of it; and under their protection and pattern I have set down the dream as it came before the sleeper. It is not my fault if the sleeper did not dream more. Perhaps something woke him. Dreams are generally fragmentary. I have nothing more to tell."

The Oxford Scheme mentioned by Ward (son of William George Ward, the ultramontanist) was the plan to found an Oratory in Oxford to serve Catholic men attending one of the Colleges of the University of Oxford. At last, Catholics could attend and earn degrees at Oxford (and Cambridge) because they did not have to swear oaths to uphold the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England any more. 

Catholics could attend and earn degrees but the English hierarchy did not think it was a good idea. Although Newman was back in favor--both in Rome and in Oxford--after the publication of the Apologia pro Vita Sua, the College of Propaganda Fide and the hierarchy still didn't want him at Oxford again. Newman himself wasn't sure he wanted to be in Oxford again. Nevertheless, Newman, the Birmingham Oratorians, and his friend James Hope-Scott had started work to buy five acres in Oxford and plan an Oratory. The difficulties of this venture continued for several months and then opposition to his involvement led Newman to stop trying to make it work. 

Perhaps after such strain of confusion, controversy, and confrontation, it was restful to contemplate the certainties of God's justice and mercy when a man dies. No more secrecy and indirection; the soul meets Jesus, knows Him, knows himself, and looks forward to being with the Holy Trinity and the saints in Heaven after his purgation. Newman explored the Church's dogmatic teachings about death and judgement, heaven and hell in a mystical, dreamy poem, harking back to his childhood love of fantasy and wonder--his sense that life was somehow a dream--while reflecting his assent to the certainties of divine revelation and his faith in the reality of God. He also includes liturgical and devotional prayers for the dying and the death, including the Litany of the Saints and the Proficiscere prayer ("Go forth, Christian Soul") in a supremely, confidently Catholic poem.

The Dream of Gerontius was then published in The Month, a periodical founded in 1864 by the convert Frances Margaret Taylor (Mother Magdalen of the Sacred Heart, Poor Servants of the Mother of God). The Jesuits in England bought The Month in 1865 and Father Henry James Coleridge, another convert (great nephew of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge), became the publisher and editor. It was then included in Newman's Verses on Various Occasions in 1867.

The poem was very well received by Catholics and some Anglicans alike. Charles Kingsley, his recently vanquished foe, William Gladstone, and Algernon Charles Swinburne, the decadent school poet, admired the poem's verse and power. Francis Hastings Doyle, the Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford, gave a lecture on The Dream of Gerontius in 1868. News that General George Gordon, "Chinese Gordon", had a copy of the poem with him at Khartoum--and that he had annotated it--when he was attacked and killed in January 1885 gave the poem even greater notoriety. As Ian Ker notes in his biography of Newman "interest in the fate of Gordon of Khartoum" was so intense that William Neville transcribed Gordon's annotations into copies of The Dream of Gerontius! (p. 741).

Those annotations would play a role in Edward Elgar's setting The Dream of Gerontius to music for the Birmingham Music Festival in 1900--but that's another topic. We'll talk about the poem in the context of the Four Last Things, Catholic doctrine, and the liturgy on Monday.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Bishop of London, Edmund Bonner, RIP

Edmund Bonner, the former bishop of London (deposed by the authority of Elizabeth I), died in Marshalsea Prison on September 5, 1569. There is some argument that he should be considered a "martyr in chains" because he refused the Elizabethan Oaths of Supremacy and Uniformity over and over again. Eamon Duffy in his Fires of Faith: Catholic England under Mary Tudor endeavors to bring some balance to our understanding of Bonner's actions during the reign of Mary I to clear away some of the bias left by Bale and Foxe, but his actions during Henry VIII's reign bear some scrutiny too, as the Catholic Encyclopedia explains his promotion to Bishop of London after good service to the king:

Elected in November, 1539, he returned, and was consecrated 4th April, 1540. Almost his first duty was to try heretics under Henry's Act of the Six Articles, and though his action seems to have been only official, accusations of excessive cruelty and bias against the accused were spread broadcast by his enemies, and from the first he seems to have been unpopular in London. During the years 1542-43 he was again abroad in Spain and Germany as ambassador to the emperor, at the end of which time he returned to London. The death of the king on 28th January 1547, proved the turning point in his career Hitherto he had shown himself entirely subservient to the sovereign, supporting him in the matter of the divorce, approving of the suppression of the religious houses, taking the oath of Supremacy which Fisher and More refused at the cost of life itself, and accepting schismatical consecration and institution. But while acting in this way, he had always resisted the innovations of the Reformers, and held to the doctrines of the old religion. Therefore from the first he put himself in opposition to the religious changes introduced by Protector Somerset and Archbishop Cranmer.

Therefore, Bonner spent some time in prison, both in the Fleet and in Marshalsea. When Mary I came to the throne, he was restored to his diocese and began the work to restore Catholicism in England, including the composition of a book of sermons, a catechism, and a guide for educating school children in the true faith. He also began the investigation of charges of heresy, including the degradation of Thomas Cranmer from his see and office, and that of course raised the ire of Bale and Foxe. Long before Eamon Duffy's book, Edwin Burton in the Catholic Encyclopedia examined his role in the heresy trials and executions, citing Lingard, Maitland, and Acton:

The end came on 5th September, 1569, when he died in the Marshalsea. The Anglican Bishop of London wrote to Cecil to say that he had been buried in St. George's churchyard, Southwark, but if this was so the coffin was soon secretly removed to Copford, near Colchester, where it was buried under the north side of the altar. Sander, Bridgewater, and other contemporary writers attributed to Bonner and the other bishops who died in prison the honor of martyrdom: in vinculis obierunt martyres. On the walls of the English College, Rome, an inscription recording the death of the eleven bishops, but without naming them, found a place among the paintings of the martyrs. In a work quoted below the Catholic tradition with regard to these bishops has been ably set forth by Rev. George Phillips, avowedly for the purpose of promoting their beatification. 

Bishop Bonner differs from the others in this respect, that owing to the prominent part circumstances compelled him to play in the persecution, he was attacked during life with a hatred which has followed him even after death, so that in English history few names have been so execrated and vilified as his. Tardy justice is now being done to his memory by historians, Catholic and Protestant alike, yet there remains immense prejudice against his memory in the popular mind. Nor could this be otherwise in face of the calumnies that have been. repeated by tradition. The reckless charges of Bale and Foxe were repeated by Burnet, Hume, and others, who join in representing him as an inhuman persecutor, "a man of profligate manners and of a brutal character, who seemed to rejoice in the torments of the unhappy sufferers" (Hume c. xxxvii). 

The first historian of note to challenge this verdict was the Catholic, Lingard, though even he wrote in a very tentative way and it was by an Anglican historian, S.R. Maitland, that anything like justice was first done to Bonner. This writer's analysis remains the most discriminating summary of the bishop's character. "Setting aside declamation and looking at the details of facts left by those who may be called, if people please, Bonner's victims, and their friends, we find, very consistently maintained, the character of a man, straightforward and hearty, familiar and humorous, sometimes rough, perhaps coarse, naturally hot tempered, but obviously (by the testimony of his enemies) placable and easily intreated, capable of bearing most patiently much intemperate and insolent language, much reviling and low abuse directed against himself personally, against his order, and against those peculiar doctrines and practices of his church for maintaining which he had himself suffered the loss of all things, and borne long imprisonment. At the same time not incapable of being provoked into saying harsh and passionate things, but much more frequently meaning nothing by the threatenings and slaughter which he breathed out, than to intimidate those on whose ignorance and simplicity argument seemed to be thrown away-in short, we can scarcely read with attention any one of the cases detailed by those who were no friends of Bonner, without seeing in him a judge who (even if we grant that he was dispensing bad laws badly) was obviously desirous to save the prisoner's life." 

This verdict has been generally followed by later historians, and the last word has been added, for the present, in. the recently published volume on the Reformation, in the "Cambridge Modern History" planned by Lord Acton (1903) where the statement is expressly made: "It is now generally admitted that the part played by Bonner was not that attributed to him by Foxe, of a cruel bigot who exulted in sending his victims to the stake. The number of those put to death in his diocese of London was undoubtedly disproportionately large, but this would seem to have been more the result of the strength of the reforming element in the capital and in Essex than of the employment of exceptional rigor; while the evidence also shows that he himself patiently dealt with many of the Protestants, and did his best to induce them to renounce what he conscientiously believed to be their errors."

(I added the paragraph breaks to make this a little easier to read.) Duffy recounts some of Bonner's efforts to make every accommodation to a heretic to renounce his or her errors in Fires of Faith.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

One of Three Greats: Pope St. Gregory the First

Today is the feast of Pope St. Gregory the Great, born around the year 540 A.D., consecrated Pope on September 3, 590, and died on March 12, 604. Pope Paul VI, in his revision of the Calendar of Saints, moved his feast from the date of his death March 12--when it usually occurs during Lent and thus isn't really celebrated--the usual date chosen for a saint's feast, to this date, on the anniversary of his consecration as Pope. He is both a Father (East and West) and a Doctor (West) of the Church.

He is also honored in the Eastern Orthodox Church, where his feast is celebrated on March 12 with the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, which is attributed to him. In the Catholic Church, we have a somewhat similar Communion Service on Good Friday, when there is no Mass celebrated, but we receive Holy Communion consecrated at and reserved from the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Thursday.

Pope St. Pius X paid tribute to his illustrious predecessor in an encyclical Iucunda Sane promulgated on March 12, 1904:
3. Truly wonderful is the work he was able to effect during his reign of little more than thirteen years. He was the restorer of Christian life in its entirety, stimulating the devotion of the faithful, the observance of the monks, the discipline of the clergy, the pastoral solicitude of the bishops. Most prudent father of the family of Christ that he was (Joann. Diac., Vita Greg. ii. 51), he preserved and increased the patrimony of the Church, and liberally succored the impoverished people, Christian society, and individual churches, according to the necessities of each. Becoming truly God's Consul (Epitaph), he pushed his fruitful activity far beyond the walls of Rome, and entirely for the advantage of civilized society. He opposed energetically the unjust claims of the Byzantine Emperors; he checked the audacity and curbed the shameless avarice of the exarchs and the imperial administrators, and stood up in public as the defender of social justice. He tamed the ferocity of the Lombards, and did not hesitate to meet Agulfus at the gates of Rome in order to prevail upon him to raise the siege of the city, just as the Pontiff Leo the Great did in the case of Attila; nor did he desist in his prayers, in his gentle persuasion, in his skillful negotiation, until he saw that dreaded people settle down and adopt a more regular government; until he knew that they were won to the Catholic faith, mainly through the influence of the pious Queen Theodolinda, his daughter in Christ. Hence Gregory may justly be called the savior and liberator of Italy - his own land, as he tenderly calls her. 
4. Through his incessant pastoral care the embers of heresy in Italy and Africa die out, ecclesiastical life in the Gauls is reorganized, the Visigoths of the Spains are welded together in the conversion which has already been begun among them, and the renowned English nation, which, "situated in a corner of the world, while it had hitherto remained obstinate in the worship of wood and stone" (Reg. viii. 29, 30, ad Eulog. Episcop. Alexandr.), now also receives the true faith of Christ. Gregory's heart overflowed with joy at the news of this precious conquest, for his is the heart of a father embracing his most beloved son, and in attributing all the merit of it to Jesus the Redeemer, "for whose love," as he himself writes, "we are seeking our unknown brethren in Britain, and through whose grace we find unknown ones we were seeking" (Reg. xi. 36 (28), ad Augustin. Anglorum Episcopum). And so grateful to the Holy Pontiff was the English nation that they called him always: our Master, our Doctor, our Apostle, our Pope, our Gregory, and considered itself as the seal of his apostolate. In fine, so salutary and so efficacious was his action that the memory of the works wrought by him became deeply impressed on the minds of posterity, especially during the Middle Ages, which breathed, so to say, the atmosphere infused by him, fed on his words, conformed its life and manners according to the example inculcated by him, with the result that Christian social civilization was happily introduced into the world in opposition to the Roman civilization of the preceding centuries, which now passed away for ever.
Pope Benedict XVI offered two reflections on Pope St. Gregory the Great during his Wednesday audience series on the Fathers of the Church: on May 28, 2008 and June 4, 2008.

Image credits: Top: Gregory and his Dove, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge Ms 389
Middle: 19th century mosaic in Westminster Cathedral, Non Angli sed Angeli

Friday, August 30, 2019

August 30, 1588 and the Three Women Martyrs Among the 40


There are two events to remember today. One is the execution of six Catholics--one laywoman, four laymen and one priest--in London as part of the English government's reaction to the attempted invasion of England by the Spanish Armada. 

The other is the memorial of three female English Catholic martyrs, who were canonized among the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales in 1970, but have this special day all to themselves on the liturgical calendar of the Dioceses of England and Wales. They are featured in the right panel of Geoffrey Webb's reredos from the Martyrs' Chapel in St. James, Spanish Place: St. Margaret Ward holds the rope, St. Anne Line the widow is dressed in black, and St. Margaret Clitherow kneels on the door which crushed her when the weights were placed upon it.


The three women share the date of St. Margaret Ward's execution on August 30, 1588 as their memorial--she was part of a second group of martyrs after the failure of the Spanish Armada. She is a virgin martyr: she helped Father Richard Watson escape from Bridewell Prison. She visited him often enough that the jailer finally allowed her to enter without searching her, so she was able to smuggle in a rope. Father Watson unfortunately injured himself while escaping and was unable to retrieve the rope. Margaret found John Roche to help the injured priest once out of prison and both she and John were arrested; John because he had exchanged clothing with the priest and Margaret because the jailer figured out that she was the last person to visit Father Watson before he escaped. She was held in chains, hung up by her hands and scourged as the authorities attempted to force her to tell them where Father Watson went after escaping Bridewell prison. She refused, even though she acknowledged that she helped him. Offered a pardon for attending Church of England services, she again refused. The torture inflicted upon her left her partially paralyzed and she had to be carried to Tyburn for hanging. 

Also martyred that day were Blessed John Roche (who had assisted Margaret Ward in the escape of Father Richard Watson), three other laymen who had assisted priests, Blesseds Richard Lloyd, Richard Martin, and Edward Shelley, and one priest, Blessed Richard Leigh. The regime was certainly sending a message about laity who assisted Catholic priests.

Blessed Richard Leigh's entry from the Catholic Encyclopedia provides some details about the other laymen: English martyr, born in Cambridgeshire about 1561; died at Tyburn, 30 August, 1588. Ordained priest at Rome in February, 1586-7, he came on the mission the same year, was arrested in London, and banished. Returning he was committed to the Tower in June 1588, and was condemned at the Old Bailey for being a priest. With him suffered four laymen and a lady . . . Edward Shelley of Warminghurst, Sussex, and East Smithfield, London (son of Edward Shelley, of Warminghurst, a Master of the Household of the sovereign, and the settlor in "Shelley's case", and Joan, daughter of Paul Eden, of Penshurst, Kent), aged 50 or 60, who was already in the Clink for his religion in April, 1584 was condemned for keeping a book called "My Lord Leicester's Commonwealth" and for having assisted the [Blessed] William Dean [who had been executed on August 28, 1588]. He was apparently uncle by marriage to Benjamin Norton, afterwards one of the seven vicars of Dr. Richard Smith. Richard Martin, of Shropshire, was condemned for being in the company of the Ven. Robert Morton and paying sixpence for his supper. Richard Lloyd, better known as Flower (alias Fludd, alias Graye), a native of the Diocese of Bangor (Wales), aged about 21, younger brother of Father Owen Lloyd was condemned for entertaining a priest named William Horner, alias Forrest. John Roche (alias Neele), an Irish serving-man, and Margaret Ward, gentlewoman of Cheshire, were condemned for having assisted a priest named William Watson (sic)* to escape from Bridewell. 

I have also told the stories of St. Anne Line and St. Margaret Clitherow before on the dates of their executions, here and here, respectively. May these three brave Catholic women martyrs--and all the brave men who suffered this day in 1588-- inspire us!

* Bishop Richard Challoner identifies the priest as Richard Watson, not William.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Book Review: An Autodidact's Book

This book, How to Keep from Losing Your Mind: Educating Yourself Classically to Survive Cultural Indoctrination by Deal W. Hudson, which I read in a pre-publication PDF version, is being released soon by TAN Books:

Liberal education is nothing other than the acquisition of a free mind.

Unfortunately, too many of us have a mind shackled by ideologies and moved by outside forces. We’re pulled and pushed by trends and the prevailing culture. Higher education has become ridiculously expensive and is producing graduates whose minds are anything but free, filled as they are with the prejudices of their teachers.

Only when we break these shackles and habitually exercise a free mind can we call ourselves liberally educated.

In
How to Keep from Losing Your Mind, Deal Hudson will show you how to avoid the false open-mindedness and groupthink of the modern “-isms” promoted by the PC arbiters of our cultural milieu. Instead you’ll learn to:
  • Form the habit of reconsideration, the key to a truly open mind
  • Entertain doubts about your own immediate opinions
  • Argue coherently from first principles, instead of repeating ideological talking points
  • Recognize prejudice and propaganda
  • Avoid sloganeering and engage in real thought
This book will enable every person to rise above the shouting, the name-calling, and the brutal incivility of public discourse and rediscover the pleasure and benefit of contemplating the meaning and noble aims of human life.

Deal asked for early reviewers and offered to send the .pdf file the day after our local G.K. Chesterton group met to discuss the section on the English education system in What's Wrong with the World, and as I started to read How to Read From Losing Your Mind, I thought the timing couldn't be more providential. For in the early twentieth century, Chesterton was already seeing the innovations and distractions that were destroying the education system in England, particularly the rejection of what he saw as the most important purpose of education: handing on the traditions and the truths of Western Christian (Catholic) culture. Chesterton noted that all education is dogmatic: even those who teach there are no truths to convey have a dogma to teach. If the educators don't recognize that fact they won't even know what they're teaching their students. (And the students would know it.)

What Deal Hudson does in this book is help us teach ourselves--be autodidacts--about the classic works of literature, film, and music (adding the last two to the usual consideration of the Western Classical Tradition) and then help us maneuver in the world of social media, the mainstream mass media, and the progressive, anti-traditional cultural milieu we face--where we can lose our minds (and souls). He doesn't reject the internet, citing many sources, especially for musical compositions, that are on-line. Finally, he examines the Four Loves delineated by C.S. Lewis (Storge/Parental Love, Philia/Friendship, Eros, and Agape) and the classic works of literature, film, and music that depict them.

These three parts of the book reflect the three transcendentals that have always kept men and women from losing their minds: Beauty ("The Irresistible Canon"), Truth ("Bad Ideas in Motion"), and Goodness ("Love is the Crux"). Like the line from the Rilke poem in Chapter One, "You Must Change Your Life", the image on the cover depicts what great works of art mean to us and the roles they play in our lives: to challenge, inspire, and educate us: to see more than we have seen before. Hudson goes on to urge us to read or view or listen to works that don't immediately conform to our own comfort, that may be dark or tragic.

In Part One, on Beauty, Hudson argues that there is a canon: "There Are Great Books" and many experts, whom we should generally trust, have identified essential works of literature (novels, plays, short stories, epics, poems, etc). He recommends Harold Bloom's The Western Canon, surveys other experts' lists, and makes his own suggestions (Wilfred Owen for first-time poetry readers). In Chapters Three and Four, Hudson expands the Canon of great works of art to music (classical and film soundtracks) and movies. In both chapters, he offers brief historical sketches, experts to trust, and examples of great works from Lauridsen's O Magnum Mysterium and Bach's Mass in B minor to D.W. Griffith's Way Down East and the films of Andrei Tarkovsky (The Mirror and Andrei Rublev). In the next two chapters, Hudson exemplifies how to read, listen to, engage with works of art, offering insights into the poetry of Elizabeth Jennings, Gerald Finzi's setting of Thomas Traherne's poetry in Dies Natalis, and John Ford's 3 Godfathers, a Western genre film perfect for Christmastime viewing.

In Part Two, on Truth, Hudson offers advice--using great works of literature, music, and movies--to help us navigate our current culture. Insights from Pieper at Leisure, Thoreau by Walden Pond, and Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" help the reader take time and pay attention. He urges us to study history and gain cultural literacy with E.D. Hirsch, and learn more about military and religious history with Camille Paglia so we can remember where "we've" been and know where we're going. Among the clouds of witnesses Hudson presents to help us think about human nature and human rights are Pope St. John Paul II, Carl Linnaeus, Aristotle, and St. Thomas Aquinas--you'll keep good company in this book! Along with insights from Philip Rieff and Mary Beard, Hudson offers his own experiences as a student and professor in dealing with attacks of multiculturalism and feminism on the very canon of great works of Western civilization this book espouses. To help his readers avoid the influence of despots and dictators of every kind, from heads of nations to virtue-signalers on Twitter, Hudson offers insights from Joseph Roth, Arthur Miller, and Henryk Gorecki, among others, with an unspoken admonition--"Never forget!" In the final chapter of Part Two, Hudson faces the limitations of an education based on the classics of the Western Canon, reminding us through George Steiner--and others--that some of the greatest atrocities of the 20th century were perpetrated by men and women with excellent educations. Nevertheless, as he concludes, an education in the classics at least plausibly offers us "freedom of mind" in an intelligible world.

So far, Hudson has not really offered his lists of recommended works beyond citing discrete examples as shown in the summaries above. When he gets to Goodness, however, and to Love, through exploring love in our families, among our friends, between lovers, and the love St. Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, Hudson does give us lists of books, music, and movies. This is appropriate, because each of these four loves is demonstrated through action, not just feeling. The lover sings, tells stories, writes verse to describe her father, her friend, her spouse, her Savior. These are chapters to be read and re-read with beautiful, true, and good explorations of Homer's The Odyssey, Wagner's Siegfried Idyll, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Twain's Huckleberry Finn, John Dowland's Songs, Hitchcock's Vertigo, Bruckner's Os Justi, Dreyer's Ordet, and Dante's Paradiso.

How does Hudson top that? With a discussion of Shakespeare and Cervantes, great contemporaries of early modern Europe, who both died in 1616 and have influenced drama and literature ever since. As Hudson notes early in the book, these great works are so accessible to us today, in print, on-line, in audio format. All any reader has to do, after consulting this book for orientation and guidance, is decide that he must change his life, then sit quietly and attend to avoid cultural indoctrination and be free.

The bibliography is comprehensive.

(I found a few errors in the book but they will be corrected in the second edition.)