Saturday, September 21, 2019

Who Was Newman? and What to Read?

My Newman friend (we've never met but we've talked on the phone a few times and corresponded) Edward Short answers the first question with an article on the BBC History Magazine website:

When news of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman’s canonisation was first announced earlier this year, some might have recalled what the liberal UK prime minister Lord Rosebery, Gladstone’s protégé, thought of the great convert. When Rosebery met the 79-year-old cardinal in 1880, he was impressed by his “deliciously soft voice” and “courtly” address. Indeed, Newman was surprised and pleased when Rosebery told him that he always kept Newman’s autobiography by his bedside.

Ten years later, when Newman was laid out on the high altar of the Oratory Church in Birmingham, Rosebery wrote in his journal: “This was the end of the young Calvinist, the Oxford don, the austere vicar of St Mary’s. It seemed as if a whole cycle of human thought and life were concentrated in that august repose. That was my overwhelming thought. Kindly light had led and guided Newman to this strange, brilliant end.”

Of course, Rosebery was referring not only to Newman’s lovely poem The Pillar of the Cloud (now a beloved hymn titled Lead Kindly Light), but to the fact that in 1845 he walked away from everything he had known and loved as an Anglican don at Oriel to embrace the Church of Rome. Gladstone, if anything, was even more laudatory about the man with whom he had crossed swords over the First Vatican Council (1869­–70), especially its adoption of papal infallibility:

“When the history of Oxford during that time comes to be written, the historian will have to record the extraordinary, the unexampled career of [Newman]… He will have to tell, as I believe, that Dr. Newman exercised for a period of about ten years after 1833 an amount of influence, of absorbing influence, over the highest intellects — over nearly the whole intellect, but certainly over the highest intellect of this University, for which perhaps, there is no parallel in the academical history of Europe, unless you go back to the twelfth century or to the University of Paris.”

What, then, was it about Newman that made him so extraordinary?

Notice how Short pays his readers such a high compliment to their knowledge of Lord Rosebery! Please read the rest there.


I offered my answer to the question what should a beginner read to learn more and more about Newman for The Catholic Herald magazine:

So, which among his many works would help someone who has never read anything written by Newman understand why so many have been devoted to this saint?

Here are my suggestions.

Start with the Meditations and Devotions, a collection of prayers and reflections for students at the Oratory School in Birmingham. It was compiled and published by Fr William Neville in 1893, three years after Newman’s death. The saint’s simple, confident and humble faith is evident on the pages of this work, including his devotion to Our Lady, to his patron saint Philip Neri and to the Stations of the Cross, meditation before the Blessed Sacrament and the holy rosary.

In the “Meditations on Christian Doctrine” the reader will find one of his most famous quotations:
God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission – I never may know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. Somehow I am necessary for His purposes, as necessary in my place as an Archangel in his – if, indeed, I fail, He can raise another, as He could make the stones children of Abraham. Yet I have a part in this great work; I am a link in a chain, a bond of connexion between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do His work; I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it, if I do but keep His commandments and serve Him in my calling.
Therefore I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be necessary causes of some great end, which is quite beyond us. He does nothing in vain; He may prolong my life, He may shorten it; He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends, He may throw me among strangers, He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide the future from me – still He knows what He is about.
Other meditation highlights include his “Short Road to Perfection” and the “Prayer for the Light of Truth”.

The neophyte should continue on the road to understanding Newman as a pastor of souls – that quality of his life that Benedict XVI highlighted at the beatification Mass in September 2010 – with a sampling of his Parochial and Plain Sermons. Newman was preaching in the 19th century to many nominal Christians in the Church of England: they hardly knew what they believed and barely acted on what they thought they believed.

In sermons such as “The Religion of the Day”, “Unreal Words”, “Doing Glory to God in Pursuits of the World” and “Christ’s Privations a Meditation for Christians”, he asked his congregation at the University Church of St Mary the Virgin in Oxford why they did not – for example, in that last sermon – “have some little gratitude, some little sympathy, some little love, some little awe, some little self-reproach, some little self-abasement, some little repentance, some little desire of amendment” when hearing week after week what God has done for them. He told them exactly why:
But why is this? why do you so little understand the Gospel of your salvation? why are your eyes so dim, and your ears so hard of hearing? why have you so little faith? so little of heaven in your hearts? For this one reason, my brethren, if I must express my meaning in one word, because you so little meditate. You do not meditate, and therefore you are not impressed.
Then the offers the solution:
What is meditating on Christ? it is simply this, thinking habitually and constantly of Him and of His deeds and sufferings. It is to have Him before our minds as One whom we may contemplate, worship, and address when we rise up, when we lie down, when we eat and drink, when we are at home and abroad, when we are working, or walking, or at rest, when we are alone, and again when we are in company; this is meditating. And by this, and nothing short of this, will our hearts come to feel as they ought.
After the reader has sampled some of Newman’s works, an introductory biography would be helpful, such as Joyce Sugg’s John Henry Newman: Snapdragon in the Wall (Gracewing) or Fr Juan Velez’s Holiness in a Secular Age: The Witness of Cardinal Newman (Scepter Publishers).

Please read the rest there.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Preview: Blessed John Henry Newman on Miracles

On Monday, September 23, Matt Swaim and I will talk about Blessed John Henry Newman and Miracles in our Santo Subito series on the Son Rise Morning Show. The anticipation of Newman's canonization is building up: this week I received the schedule of events to be broadcast on EWTN in October; the English oratories and many Newmanian organizations are presenting programs and publishing articles, posting podcasts, etc., etc. Since two miracles, one for his beatification, one for canonization, have been investigated and accepted by the Church, it seems appropriate to look at Newman's thoughts on miracles.

He lived in a country and a time that did not believe in miracles. Anglicans and dissenting Protestants thought that miracles did not occur; there was even doubt about the miracles of Jesus and His Apostles recounted in the New Testament. Certainly the Catholic belief in saints and miracles after the New Testament era was detestable to the rational minds of Victorian England, indicating the foolish superstition of Catholics, and demonstrating the "priestcraft" that held the Catholic laity in ignorance and obedience.

As an Anglican, Newman himself at first doubted that miracles had occurred in the Early Church after the Apostolic era--but through his study of the Fathers of the Church, he began to change his mind, as demonstrated in the two essays he wrote about miracles, as described by the University of Notre Dame Press:

The essays in this volume were written when John Henry Newman was a Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford. He wrote the first, on biblical miracles "The Miracles of Scripture," in 1825-26, as a relatively young man; the other, "The Miracles of Early Ecclesiastical History," was written in 1842-43. A comparison of the two essays displays a shift in Newman's theological stances. In the earlier essay, Newman argues in accordance with the theology of evidence of his time, maintaining that the age of miracles was limited to those recorded in the Old Testament scriptures and in the Gospels and Acts. He asserts that biblical miracles served to demonstrate the divine inspiration of biblical revelation and to attest to the divinity of Christ. However, with the end of the apostolic age, the age of miracles came to an end; miracles reported from the early ages of the Church Newman dismissed as suspicious and possibly fraudulent. With this view, Newman entered into an ongoing debate between the skepticism of Hume and Paine and its continuation in the utilitarianism of Bentham, on the one hand, and the views of Christian apologists rebutting Hume's arguments, on the other. In "The Miracles of Early Ecclesiastical History," Newman can be seen as coming closer to accepting the doctrines of the Catholic Church. He rejects the stance he took in "The Miracles of Scripture," now arguing for a continuity of sacred history between the biblical and ecclesiastical periods. He had clearly abandoned the position of "evidence theologians" that miracles ended after the time of the Apostles. Newman's movement between the writing of the two essays is essentially a growing into a deeper awareness of the Church as a divine society in whose life miracles and supernatural gifts were to be expected.

And as Newman further demonstrated to the Lay Brothers of the Oratory in Birmingham in 1851, he understood the First Principle by which Anglicans and other Protestants rejected--and indeed, were repulsed by--the Catholic belief in miracles, including Catholics praying for miracles. In the seventh chapter of The Present Position of Catholics in England, he sums it up:

The Protestant, I say, laughs at the very idea of miracles or supernatural acts as occurring at this day; his First Principle is rooted in him; he repels from him the idea of miracles; he laughs at the notion of evidence for them; one is just as likely as another; they are all false. Why? Because of his First Principle: there are no miracles since the Apostles. Here, indeed, is a short and easy way of getting rid of the whole subject, not by reason, but by a First Principle which he calls reason. Yes, it is reason, granting his First Principle is true; it is not reason, supposing his First Principle is false. It is reason, if the private judgment of an individual, or of a sect, or of a philosophy, or of a nation, be synonymous with reason; it is not reason, if reason is something not local, nor temporal, but universal. Before he advances a step in his argument, he ought to prove his First Principle true; he does not attempt to do so, he takes it for granted; and he proceeds to apply it, gratuitous, personal, peculiar as it is, to all our accounts of miracles taken together, and thereupon and thereby triumphantly rejects them all. This, forsooth, is his spontaneous judgment, his instinctive feeling, his common sense,—a mere private opinion of his own, a Protestant opinion; a lecture-room opinion; not a world-wide opinion, not an instinct ranging through time and space, but an assumption and presumption, which, by education and habit, he has got to think as certain, as much of an axiom, as that two and two make four; and he looks down upon us, and bids us consider ourselves beaten, all because the savour of our statements and narratives and reports and legends is inconsistent with his delicate Protestant sense,—all because our conclusions are different, not from our principles and premisses, but from his.

And now for the structure he proceeds to raise on this foundation of sand. If, he argues, in matter of fact, there be a host of stories about relics and miracles circulated in the Catholic Church, which, as a matter of First Principle, cannot be true; to what must we attribute them? indubitably to enormous stupidity on the one hand, and enormous roguery on the other. This, observe, is an immediate and close inference:—clever men must see through the superstition; those who do not see through it must be dolts. Further, since religion is the subject-matter of the alleged fictions, they must be what are called pious frauds, for the sake of gain and power. Observe, my Brothers, there is in the Church a vast tradition and testimony about miracles: how is it to be accounted for? If miracles can take place, then the truth of the miracle will be a natural explanation of the report, just as the fact of a man dying satisfactorily accounts for the news that he is dead; but the Protestant cannot so explain it, because he thinks miracles cannot take place; so he is necessarily driven, by way of accounting for the report of them, to impute that report to fraud. He cannot help himself. I repeat it; the whole mass of accusations which Protestants bring against us under this head, Catholic credulity, imposture, pious frauds, hypocrisy, priestcraft, this vast and varied superstructure of imputation, you see, all rests on an assumption, on an opinion of theirs, for which they offer no kind of proof. What then, in fact, do they say more than this, If Protestantism be true, you Catholics are a most awful set of knaves?—Here, at least, is a most intelligible and undeniable position.


Newman tells the Brothers of the Oratory that this is a great divide between Catholics and Protestants in England because Catholics and Protestants begin with very different First Principles, and it is something that they will have to deal with as laity living in a Protestant country and defending Catholic First Principles:

Observe then, we affirm that the Supreme Being has wrought miracles on earth ever since the time of the Apostles: Protestants deny it. Why do we affirm, why do they deny? we affirm it on a First Principle, they deny it on a First Principle; and on either side the First Principle is made to be decisive of the question. Our First Principle is contradictory of theirs; if theirs be true, we are mistaken; if ours be true, they are mistaken. They take for granted that their First Principle is true; we take for granted that our First Principle is true. Till ours is disproved, we have as much right to consider it true as they to consider theirs true; till theirs is proved, they have as little ground for saying that we go against reason, as for boasting that they go according to it. For our First Principle is our reason, in the same sense in which theirs is their reason, and it is quite as good a reason. Both they and we start with the miracles of the Apostles [Note 2]; and then their First Principle or presumption, against our miracles, is this, "What God did once, He is not likely to do again;" while our First Principle or presumption, for our miracles, is this, "What God did once, He is likely to do again." They say, It cannot be supposed He will work many miracles; we, It cannot be supposed He will work few.

I am not aiming at any mere sharp or clever stroke against them; I wish to be serious and to investigate the real state of the case, and I feel what I am saying very strongly. Protestants say, miracles are not likely to occur often; we say they are likely to occur often. The two parties, you see, start with contradictory principles, and they determine the particular miracles, which are the subject of dispute, by their respective principles, without looking to such testimony as may be brought in their favour. They do not say, "St. Francis, or St. Antony, or St. Philip Neri did no miracles, for the evidence for them is worth nothing," or "because what looked like a miracle was not a miracle;" no, but they say, "It is impossible they should have wrought miracles." Bring before the Protestant the largest mass of evidence and testimony in proof of the miraculous liquefaction of St. Januarius's blood at Naples, let him be urged by witnesses of the highest character, chemists of the first fame, circumstances the most favourable for the detection of imposture, coincidences, and confirmations the most close and minute and indirect, he will not believe it; his First Principle blocks belief. On the other hand, diminish the evidence ever so much, provided you leave some, and reduce the number of witnesses and circumstantial proof; yet you would not altogether wean the Catholic's mind from belief in it; for his First Principle encourages such belief. Would any amount of evidence convince the Protestant of the miraculous motion of a Madonna's eyes? is it not to him in itself, prior to proof, simply incredible? would he even listen to the proof? His First Principle settles the matter; no wonder then that the whole history of Catholicism finds so little response in his intellect or sympathy in his heart. It is as impossible that the notion of the miracle should gain admittance into his imagination, as for a lighted candle to remain burning, when dipped into a vessel of water. The water puts it out.


More on Monday on how Newman prepared the Brothers of the Oratory to face this divide in nineteenth century England.

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.