Wednesday, November 20, 2019

2020 Book Wish List: First Choice

As I was preparing for my presentations last weekend at the Spiritual Life Center, especially the one about the great parade of Newman speakers who visited the Newman Center at WSU and Newman University in the past (Professor John Crosby, Father Ian Ker, Mary Katherine Tillman, then-Father Avery Dulles, et al), I thought about who should be invited to Wichita if we could meet those standards.

I searched online for "Newman and the New Evangelization" and found this book, which is on my wish list in 2020--and the author is someone I'd like to see in Wichita at the Spiritual Life Center or Newman University. From the Catholic University of America Press:

Reinhard Hütter's main thesis in this third volume of the Sacra Doctrina series is that John Henry Newman, in his own context of the nineteenth century, a century far from being a foreign one to our own, faced the same challenges as we do today; the problems then and now differ in degree, not in kind. Hence, Newman's engagement with these problems offers us a prescient and indeed prophetic diagnosis of what these problems or errors, if not corrected, will lead to—consequences which have more or less come to pass—and, furthermore, an alternative way which is at once thoroughly Catholic and holds contemporary relevance.

The introduction offers a survey of Newman's life and works and each of the subsequent four chapters addresses one significant aspect of Christianity that is not only contested or rejected by secular unbelief, but also has a counterfeit for which not only Christians, but even Catholics have fallen. The counterfeit of conscience is the "conscience" of the sovereign subject (Ch. 1); the counterfeit of faith is the "faith" of one who does not submit to the living authority through which God communicates but rather adheres to the principle of private judgment in matters of revealed religion(Ch.2); the counterfeit of doctrinal development is twofold: (i) paying lip service to development while only selectively accepting its consequences on the grounds of a specious antiquarianism and (ii) invoking development theory to justify all sorts of contemporary changes according to the present Zeitgeist (Ch. 3). Finally, the counterfeit of the university are all those "universities" whose end is not to educate and thereby to perfect the intellect, but rather to feed more efficiently the empire of desire that is informed by the techno-consumerism of today (Ch. 4). The book concludes with an epilogue on Hütter's journey to Catholicism.

The book is to be published on February 15, 2020: I've pre-ordered it at Eighth Day Books!

This might be a preview of Chapter 4 on the "counterfeit of the university" and this interview is fascinating!

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Catholic Emancipation via Antonia Fraser

This book is coming out in paperback now so the hardcover is well-priced. I read it as some background for final preparation of my second Newman Retreat talk last weekend on Newman and the Laity.

From the publisher:

In the eighteenth century, the Catholics of England lacked many basic freedoms under the law: they could not serve in political office, buy or inherit land, or be married by the rites of their own religion. So virulent was the sentiment against Catholics that, in 1780, violent riots erupted in London—incited by the anti-Papist Lord George Gordon—in response to the Act for Relief that had been passed to loosen some of these restrictions.

The Gordon Riots marked a crucial turning point in the fight for Catholic emancipation. Over the next fifty years, factions battled to reform the laws of the land. Kings George III and George IV refused to address the “Catholic Question,” even when pressed by their prime ministers. But in 1829, through the dogged work of charismatic Irish lawyer Daniel O’Connell and the support of the great Duke of Wellington, the watershed Roman Catholic Relief Act finally passed, opening the door to the radical transformation of the Victorian age. Gripping, spirited, and incisive,
The King and the Catholics is character-driven narrative history at its best, reflecting the dire consequences of state-sanctioned oppression—and showing how sustained political action can triumph over injustice.

I certainly agree that Fraser writes "character-driven narrative history": her profiles of historical figures from Lord George Gordon to Cardinal Consalvi, Bishop Milner to Daniel O'Connell, Maria Fitzherbert to Father John Lingard describe their contributions to the ongoing social, political, and Royal struggle to allow Catholics to practice their faith freely. Each chapter describes the proponents and opponents of Catholic Emancipation and the slow progress of Parliamentary efforts toward it. She begins with the Gordon Riots, continues with the situation of the Prince of Wales and Mrs. Fitzherbert (the heir to the throne married to a Catholic widow through a wedding not recognized by the State), King George III's breakdown, English sympathy for Catholic refugees from the French Revolution, Daniel O'Connell's efforts, etc.

Along the way I learned that Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington's older brother, married Marianne Canton Patterson, the grand-daughter of Charles Carroll of Carrollton (her mother was Carroll's daughter Mary). I was surprised that Fraser did not highlight this revolutionary connection, since Carroll was the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence and the only surviving signer at that time.

Fraser dedicates two-thirds of the book to the events and personages dealing with the cause of Catholic Emancipation in Ireland and in England. The last section details the final, reluctant assent of Sir Robert Peel, the Duke of Wellington, and King George IV to Catholic Emancipation after Daniel O'Connell had won a landslide election in County Clare. The remarkably horrid fear of Catholics--King George IV's brother, Ernest Augustus, the Duke of Cumberland (future King of Hanover) actually thought that Catholic Emancipation would mean that England would become a Catholic country with a Catholic government--when Catholics were such a minority in England (but not in Ireland!).

The irony that none of George III's sons were able to marry and successfully beget legitimate male heirs was also remarkable! George IV left Maria Fitzherbert for his consort wife Caroline of Brunswick in 1795 but separated from her in 1796; his only legitimate child, the Princess Charlotte, died in 1817. Of all his brothers, only Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent, had a surviving child, the Princess Alexandrina Victoria, who would succeed her uncle William IV, the former Duke of Clarence (whose two legitimate daughters died in childbirth or infancy).

George IV's Prime Minister, the Duke of Wellington, used this dangerous line of succession against the monarch: an unstable Ireland--provoked by the injustice of an elected representative not being able to take his seat because he's Catholic representing a Catholic constituency in a land 85% Catholic--and an unstable succession of old men without sons to succeed them, should not be an obstacle to the will of his elected government (the future William IV was 64 in 1829; Victoria's father was 62; Ernest Augustus was 58, etc). Two of George IV's brothers, the Duke of Kent and Prince Augustus Frederick, the Duke of Sussex, were in favor of Catholic Emancipation, besides.

So finally Catholic Emancipation was achieved, except that important supporters of O'Connell in Ireland were stripped of the vote when the property value limits were increased for freeholds from forty shilling to ten pounds, reducing the number of Catholic men who could vote. O'Connell regretted that part of the deal. He also had to stand for election again because the law didn't grandfather him in: under his original election, he still had to take an oath denying the Real Presence, etc.

Fraser rightly pays tribute to O'Connell's rhetoric eloquence and strategic brilliance: while not allowing any violence, especially after he had won election, Wellington's government knew there was a threat and the possibility of insurrection. He was one of the heroes of this effort. She also acknowledges Wellington's commitment and even Peel's change of mind. This is a great work of historical storytelling with important consequences. Rather whets my appetite for her Perilous Question: Reform or Revolution: England on the Brink, 1832.

Monday, November 18, 2019

CNA News Podcast


Last Wednesday, I recorded an interview for one of the Catholic News Agency's podcasts, the CNA Newsroom podcasts, which will be posted today. The producer, Kate Veik, asked me to talk about the Blessed Carmelite Martyrs of Compiegne with a focus on a "good death", based on my 2017 article about the Carmelites on the National Catholic Register blog page. The interview should be posted today and there are various ways (apps) you can listen to it!

The Carmelites obviously died "good deaths": they offered their martyrdoms for an end to the bloodshed, violence, and anti-Catholicism of the Reign of Terror; they were true to Jesus and His Church and the vows they had made as cloistered religious.

It was nine (9) years ago on November 16, 2010 that I visited the site of their martyrdom, the grounds of the cemetery in which their bodies were buried in mass graves, and got as close as I could to their graveside behind a wall and a locked gate.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Father Vincent Blehl, SJ RIP

Father Vincent Ferrer Blehl, SJ died on November 14, 2001. As this obituary in The Independent , noted, his life and academic career had many connections to St. John Henry Newman:

Native of the Bronx, Professor of English Literature, Jesuit of the New York Province, 21-year resident of Europe working for the canonisation of a Londoner – all these facts about Vincent Blehl seem like shards from rather incompatible ciphers until one recognises the indicating number – John Henry Newman – the priest, theologian, poet, preacher, and extraordinary man of God.

Vincent Ferrer Blehl was born in 1921 and at the age of 18 entered the Society of Jesus. His studies were commenced at Woodstock College, Maryland, against an increasingly dark international background (the Roosevelts were near neighbours and Blehl often spoke of their kindness in allowing the young students to use part of their grounds for recreation). An MA in English followed, and Blehl's dissertation had the 19th-century English cardinal Newman for its subject (he had developed a keen interest in Newman's
Grammar of Assent when at Woodstock). Blehl's doctoral work at Harvard had the same focus.

Father Blehl worked with Father Charles Stephen Dessain of the Oratory and hoped to work further on Newman's Cause for Canonization, but his superiors had other assignments for him, including the chairmanship of the Department of England at Fordham University. But he finally had his chance to make a great contribution to Newman's Cause:

While Newman's cause had been put firmly on the right track in 1959, the engine had refused to move for 20 years. Those who had been involved were either tied to other commitments, and/or were totally baffled as to how the work might be tackled. In 1979 some exploratory investigations were being undertaken to establish what should be done and how. Learning about this, Blehl was immediately bursting with enthusiasm. He was confident that his superiors would allow him to take early retirement from Fordham and move to Europe and devote himself full time to the work of the cause. The Archbishop of Birmingham constituted a new Historical Commission, with Vincent Blehl as chairman.

Assessing priorities was not always easy at first but by 1984 it was clear what needed to be done and Blehl led those concerned on a rollercoaster which led to the successful completion of the diocesan enquiry in 1986. The cause was then sent on to Rome, and, at this point, Blehl was appointed Postulator, and, as such, was responsible for drawing up the Positio or documentary case for Newman's canonisation. This was finished in 1989 and completed the rounds of the Sacred Congregation's committees of consultors with record speed. In January 1991, Pope John Paul II issued the decree of heroicity of virtue and declared that John Henry Newman was forthwith to be called "Venerable".

He also published several books about Newman or collections of Newman's sermons, letters, and other works. Father Blehl was devoted to making sure that Newman's spirituality and devotion to Jesus Christ were better understood. The White Stone: The Spiritual Theology of John Henry Newman is a great example of this, as is Blehl's introduction to a collection of sermons which includes a foreword by Muriel Spark, whose reading of Newman led her to join the Catholic Church.

Although Father Blehl did not live to see Newman beatified or canonized, his soul surely knows that his work helped the Cause. 

St. John Henry Newman, pray for us!!

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Newman Memories on the Ides of November

“My theme is memory, that winged host that soared about me one grey morning of war-time. These memories, which are my life—for we possess nothing certainly except the past—were always with me."--from Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh.

November is a month for memories: we remember the faithfully departed; we remember the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month at the end of the war that was to end all wars; we remember all the blessings we have received and give thanks for them. My brother and sister and I remember our father's birthday on November 6 and our parents' wedding anniversary on November 25--they are both dead, but those events, not just the celebration of their memory are always with us. Without them, we are not. They are our life. And I do mean "our life" as well as our lives--they are our life as a family.

So I've been preparing for my presentations next week at the Spiritual Life Center for a Newman Retreat Friday, November 15 and Saturday, November 16:

Newman’s writings have long been esteemed by scholars. Now, with his canonization, his influence is being lifted up for all to see; not just for theologians, but for the whole Church. Among many other things, Newman is famous for his explanations of the way doctrine develops, the way God saves us through his Church, and the way people come to know and accept truth. Retreatants will walk through his teachings under the direction of Stephanie Mann and Fr. Tom Hoisington, both of the Wichita Diocese. Stephanie Mann will give two presentations: one focusing on the impact Newman has had in our diocese, and the other on the importance of Newman for the laity in light of his being raised to the altars. Fr. Hoisington will present on Newman’s personalism- his explanation of how an individual subject makes response to objective truth in a way that is both personal and universal- an essential area of Newman’s thought that is often misunderstood and underappreciated. New this retreat, participants will enjoy a Friday evening social time with music, appetizers and drinks as they enjoy each other’s company and build a Catholic Culture. Musician Jack Korbel will provide entertainment. For those who cannot attend the entire retreat, please consider joining us for Friday evening's celebrations for this new Saint!

The Friday evening presentation is made up of memories of all the different programs I've attended since 1979. And for the month of November, especially while we are remembering all the faithful departed, I'm using the word "late" often in my presentation.

The late Bishop David Maloney
The late Father Joseph Gorentz
The late Father Richard Stuchlik
The late Father Charles Taylor
The late H. Lyman Stebbins
The late James Mesa
The late Ralph McInerny
etc,
etc,
etc.

The schedule for Friday night, November 15, includes my presentation "focusing on the impact Newman has had in our diocese" and then we'll have a social hour with a musical performance by Jack Korbel!

On Saturday, November 16, we'll begin the day with Morning Prayer at 9:00 a.m.; then I'll make a presentation on St. John Henry Newman and The Laity: Notes for 21st Century Catholic Faithful; Mass follows, then lunch, and Father Hoisington will then present on Newman's Personalism.

Registration is open at the Spiritual Life Center through November 14!

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The North of England and the South of the USA

From History Today:

In his 1989 book Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America, the historian David Hackett Fischer explained how the regional patterns of emigration to the American colonies can help us understand the very different culture and political outlook of the peoples who live in the modern United States. While the Puritans from East Anglia established communities in New England, the Quakers went to Pennsylvania and what he calls the Anglican ‘Cavaliers’ made the valley of the Delaware their home. The ‘Mountain South’ was settled by a group he refers to as the ‘Borderers’ – a more accurate term than Scotch-Irish – with over 250,000 border English, Scots and Scots-Irish arriving in the Appalachian back-country between 1717 and 1775. . . .

The outlook of the Anglo-Scottish borderlands profoundly shaped the culture of the southern United States in a number of important and enduring ways. First, the seven centuries of warfare between English and Scottish kings meant that Northumbria in particular was much fought over – the ‘ring in which the champions met’ – and this made ordinary lives unusually precarious compared to the rest of England. Likewise, the lawlessness of these borderlands had created opportunities for theft and plunder on a massive scale, with the ‘Border Reivers’ building a whole way of life around the endemic theft of livestock. This created a very different and much more violent and militaristic society than in the rest of England. Societal structures were based around loyalty to local warlords, rather than the manorial system that prevailed elsewhere. Cumbrian and Northumbrian forms of tenancy were designed to maintain large bodies of fighting men to defend the border against the Scots, or to launch retaliatory raids against trespassers – the so-called ‘hot trod’ sanctioned by the ‘Marcher Law’ of the Borders. Here were the origins of the distinctive cowboy culture of the US, based as it was around the patrolling of grazing lands and the rapid pursuit of stolen goods via the armed posses familiar from American Westerns.

Please read the rest there. The writer of the article, Dan Jackson, the author of The Northumbrians: The North-East of England and Its People, A New History (Hurst, 2019), even points out connections between language and pronunciation in the American South and the North of England; place names and physiognomy show the inheritance of traits from English settlers in the South.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Remember, Remember the Fifth of November


Anna Mitchell asked me yesterday to talk about Guy Fawkes Day this morning on the Son Rise Morning Show, so Matt Swaim and I will discuss the continuing celebration of this historical event even though many in England don't know what they are celebrating or why. It's become a long weekend of fireworks and hooliganism. So Matt and I will talk about what Guy Fawkes Day or Bonfire Night "remembers" every November at 6:45 a.m. Central/7:45 a.m. Eastern.

UPDATE: This interview will be repeated tomorrow morning--on the Fifth of November--during the EWTN hour of the Son Rise Morning Show between 5:00 and 6:00 a.m. Central/6:00 and 7:00 a.m. Eastern!

The Fifth of November, Guy Fawkes Day, Bonfire Night: November 5th marks the anniversary of the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605.

I think this is one of the saddest episodes of Catholic reaction to the recusancy and penal laws imposed upon them by the English government. It was so desperate and impossible, not to mention absolutely murderous and immoral. Robert Catesby, Guy Fawkes, and the other conspirators thought that they could blow up Parliament and the Royal Family, except for Elizabeth, the oldest daughter whom they would kidnap and force to rule under their control--and the people of England would rise up against their rulers and put them in charge!

Instead they either died on the scaffold as traitors or in fights with local constabularies. They implicated priests accused of hearing their confessions and not betraying the sanctity of the Sacrament by reporting them to the government and those priests were also sentenced to death. And, of course, the government passed even stricter penal laws against Catholics, restricting their travel, increasing the fines for recusancy, making Catholics liable to search at any time, and requiring all marriages, baptisms, and funerals be registered first in the Church of England, or the family would be fined.

Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot...

For a couple of centuries, the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot was marked by prayers of thanks for deliverance from Catholic plotting. Bonfire Night and the burning of Guy Fawkes and sometimes the current Pope in effigy also continued for two centuries--and there are still bonfires throughout England and former colonial areas today, but some of the historical and religious implications have faded. James Sharpe, in his book on the commemoration of the Gunpowder Plot, traces the fascination with Guy Fawkes, the fading of anti-Catholicism, and the more recent concerns about frightened pets and rowdy drunks. The Guardian posted this review essay in 2005, the 400th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot.

Note that during the Revolutionary War, George Washington forbade his soldiers' celebrating of the Fifth of November. It just didn't make sense at the time.

November 5 also recalls the invasion of Prince William of Orange, landing at Brixham, Torbay in 1688. And this, also, to me is one of the saddest responses of the Anglican elite to the possibility of religious tolerance in England--invite an invasion and depose a legitimately ruling king! William the new conqueror brought a force of around 21,000--mostly foreign mercenaries--including cavalry and artillery. The fact that 1688 was the 100th anniversary of the defeat of the Spanish Armada also seemed providential to the Whigs and Tories who rejected James II and his young son and heir. Unlike the Spanish attempt 100 years ago, this invasion would succeed!

Image Credit: Festivities in Windsor Castle by Paul Sandby, c. 1776

Thursday, October 31, 2019

The Saint and the Hero: Newman's Journey


AGED Saint! far off I heard
    The praises of thy name;—
Thy deed of power, thy prudent word,
    Thy zeal's triumphant flame.

I came and saw; and, having seen,
    Weak heart, I drew offence
From thy prompt smile, thy simple mien,
    Thy lowly diligence.

The Saint's is not the Hero's praise;—
    This I have found, and learn
Nor to malign Heaven's humblest ways,
    Nor its least boon to spurn.

Bay of Biscay.
December 10, 1832.

St. John Henry Newman wrote this poem while he was an Anglican during that eventful trip to Italy and the Mediterranean. As he commented to his mother in a letter on December 11, 1832, he had been writing verse nearly every day of his voyage.

He was travelling with Richard Hurrell Froude and Froude's father as they hoped that a better climate would be beneficial to Richard, who was suffering from consumption (tuberculosis). Newman describes Froude's religious influence on him in the Apologia pro Vita Sua:

Hurrell Froude was a pupil of Keble's, formed by him, and in turn reacting upon him. I knew him first in 1826, and was in the closest and most affectionate friendship with him from about 1829 till his death in 1836. He was a man of the highest gifts,—so truly many-sided, that it would be presumptuous in me to attempt to describe him, except under those aspects in which he came before me. Nor have I here to speak of the gentleness and tenderness of nature, the playfulness, the free elastic force and graceful versatility of mind, and the patient winning considerateness in discussion, which endeared him to those to whom he opened his heart; for I am all along engaged upon matters of belief and opinion, and am introducing others into my narrative, not for their own sake, or because I love and have loved them, so much as because, and so far as, they have influenced my theological views. In this respect then, I speak of Hurrell Froude,—in his intellectual aspect,—as a man of high genius, brimful and overflowing with ideas and views, in him original, which were too many and strong even for his bodily strength, and which crowded and jostled against each other in their effort after distinct shape and expression. And he had an intellect as critical and logical as it was speculative and bold. Dying prematurely, as he did, and in the conflict and transition-state of opinion, his religious views never reached their ultimate conclusion, by the very reason of their multitude and their depth. His opinions arrested and influenced me, even when they did not gain my assent. He professed openly his admiration of the Church of Rome, and his hatred of the Reformers. He delighted in the notion of an hierarchical system, or sacerdotal power, and of full ecclesiastical liberty. He felt scorn of the maxim, "The Bible and the Bible only is the religion of Protestants;" and he gloried in accepting Tradition as a main instrument of religious teaching. He had a high severe idea of the intrinsic excellence of Virginity; and he considered the Blessed Virgin its great Pattern. He delighted in thinking of the Saints; he had a vivid appreciation of the idea of sanctity, its possibility and its heights; and he was more than inclined to believe a large amount of miraculous interference as occurring in the early and middle ages. He embraced the principle of penance and mortification. He had a deep devotion to the Real Presence, in which he had a firm faith. He was powerfully drawn to the Medieval Church, but not to the Primitive.

Newman also comments on the verses he wrote during this journey:

We set out in December, 1832. It was during this expedition that my Verses which are in the Lyra Apostolica were written;—a few indeed before it, but not more than one or two of them after it. Exchanging, as I was, definite Tutorial work, and the literary quiet and pleasant friendships of the last six years, for foreign countries and an unknown future, I naturally was led to think that some inward changes, as well as some larger course of action, were coming upon me. At Whitchurch, while waiting for the down mail to Falmouth, I wrote the verses about my Guardian Angel, which begin with these words: "Are these the tracks of some unearthly Friend?" and which go on to speak of "the vision" which haunted me:—that vision is more or less brought out in the whole series of these compositions.

Here is that poem about his Guardian Angel:

ARE these the tracks of some unearthly Friend,
His foot prints, and his vesture-skirts of light,
Who, as I talk with men, conforms aright
Their sympathetic words, or deeds that blend
With my hid thought;—or stoops him to attend
My doubtful-pleading grief;—or blunts the might
Of ill I see not;—or in dreams of night
Figures the scope, in which what is will end?
Were I Christ's own, then fitly might I call
That vision real; for to the thoughtful mind
That walks with Him, He half unveils His face;
But, when on earth-stain'd souls such tokens fall,
These dare not claim as theirs what there they find,
Yet, not all hopeless, eye His boundless grace.

Whitchurch.
December 8, 1832.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The Triduum of the Dead

Tomorrow is Halloween--All Hallow's Eve--and the Liturgical Arts Journal has a post from the publisher of a prayer booklet for the day and evening of the beginning of these days of special remembrance for the faithful departed:

Halloween is a liturgical holiday. Anyone would be forgiven for not knowing that, because almost nobody keeps it that way anymore—to such a degree that some Catholics are of the opinion that we should wash our hands of the whole business. But Halloween has always belonged properly to the Church, and as such it should be made a key strategic objective in a cultural Reconquista. To help illustrate why, I’d like to walk through the day of October 31st, not as the world celebrates it now, but as the Latin Church celebrated it for centuries, listed in the Martyrology as Vigilia omnium Sanctorum.

The Thirty-first of October would traditionally have begun with the office of Matins before sunrise. Traditionally, weekdays in October Matins featured readings from the Books of Maccabees. But on the 31st, the readings switch to Luke 6 and Ambrose’s homily on the Beatitudes. These lessons appointed for Halloween come from the common “Of Many Martyrs”, and we will see this theme of the Beatitudes reappear not only later in the vigil day but also in the feast of All Saints to follow. . . .

Please read the rest there.

The booklet I referred to, published by Ancilla Press, helps restore Halloween as a liturgical holiday:

Traditional Catholic devotions for Halloween? Yes, you read that right! As neopagans try to co-opt this vigil day for themselves, we’re taking All Hallows Eve back for Holy Mother Church with this fantastic collection. It features liturgical propers of the Mass and the Divine Office for All Hallows Eve, including the full version of "Black Vespers", an old Breton tradition for the afternoon of Halloween. Combat the occult worship of the secular holiday with three powerful prayers against evil spirits, witchcraft, and spells. And transform your childrens' Halloween or All Saints trick-or-treating from mere indulgence to a spiritual work of mercy with the venerable practice of "souling"—praying for the dear departed of benefactors. Combining Celtic, English, and Latin traditions, this unique booklet provides adults and children with an unashamedly Catholic and  historically authentic way to celebrate the beginning of Hallowtide.

Features:
* Traditional Mass propers for All Hallows Eve
* Black Vespers (Vespers of the Dead)

* Little Vespers of All Saints
St. Patrick's Breastplate
* Long form of the St. Michael Prayer by Pope Leo XIII
* A Deliverance Prayer
* Prayer for Those for Whom We are Bound to Pray
* Prayer for Those who Repose in a Cemetery
* Chaplet for the Souls in Purgatory, adapted for Halloween Souling

* Traditional Soul-Cake Recipe
* Cheshire Souling Song (music and lyrics)
* Another Souling Song (lyrics)

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The Decollation of Sir Walter Raleigh

The History website tells us why Sir Walter Raleigh was beheaded on October 29, 1618:

He was a celebrated soldier, a hero on land and sea. He was responsible for the first ever English colonies in the New World. And he wrote poetry that ranks with some of the finest in early modern England. Yet at the age of 54 Sir Walter Raleigh was executed for treason. What caused the downfall of this beloved Renaissance courtier?

For a court favorite, Raleigh actually spent quite a bit of his life locked up in the Tower of London. The first time, in 1592, it was because he’d secretly married his lover, Elizabeth ‘Bess’ Throckmorton, a lady-in-waiting to Elizabeth I. Bess was already pregnant, which explained both the marriage and the secrecy. Enraged by their plotting behind her back, Elizabeth dismissed Bess and imprisoned both of them in the Tower.


Raleigh did regain the Queen's favor eventually and then explored the New World, founding the Roanoke colony in Virginia, and returning from El Dorado (Guyana) promising more gold every time he visited.

While he remained in Elizabeth’s favor until her death, James VI’s of Scotland’s accession to the English throne as James I meant that Raleigh’s fortunes plummeted. This was largely because James was attempting a diplomatic rapprochement with Spain, England’s longstanding enemy, against whom Raleigh had been a formidable foe. England’s funds were depleted by their endless struggles against Spain’s richer, mightier forces, so James decided it was time to end the rivalry. . . .

So Raleigh was tried in a sham trial--never allowed to face his accuser and question him--and imprisoned again:

But James, in his determination to get on Spain’s good side, locked up Raleigh once again in the Tower—this time for 13 years. . . .

It was likely Raleigh’s promises of gold that got him released from prison before his sentence could be carried out: in 1617 he was pardoned so that he could once again travel to Guyana in search of El Dorado. But that quest would ultimately prove fatal: during the expedition a detachment of Raleigh’s men (against his orders) attacked a Spanish outpost, an action that directly contravened the conditions of his pardon.


Because Raleigh's men, led by Lawrence Keymis, had violated the 1604 Treaty of London, the Spanish Ambassador to the Court of St. James, Diego Sarmiento de Acuña, Count of Gondomar, demanded Raleigh's execution (Keymis having committed suicide--Raleigh's namesake eldest son had died in the attack) and James I complied. Raleigh was executed at Whitechapel in London.

In addition to being an explorer, soldier, and courtier, Raleigh was a poet:

WHAT is our life? The play of passion.
Our mirth? The music of division:
Our mothers’ wombs the tiring-houses be,
Where we are dressed for life’s short comedy.
The earth the stage; Heaven the spectator is,
Who sits and views whosoe’er doth act amiss.
The graves which hide us from the scorching sun
Are like drawn curtains when the play is done.
Thus playing post we to our latest rest,
And then we die in earnest, not in jest.

He also wrote The History of the World, in which he was rather critical of Henry VIII:

NOW for King Henry VIII. If all the pictures and patterns of a merciless prince were lost in the world, they might all again be painted to the life out of the story of this king. For how many servants did he advance in haste (but for what virtue no man could suspect), and with the change of his fancy ruined again; no man knowing for what offence! To how many others of more desert gave he abundant flowers from whence to gather honey, and in the end of harvest burnt them in the hive! How many wives did he cut off and cast off, as his fancy and affection changed! How many princes of the blood (whereof some of them for age could hardly crawl towards the block), with a world of others of all degrees (of whom our common chronicles have kept the account), did he execute! Yea, in his very deathbed, and when he was at the point to have given his account to God for the abundance of blood already spilt, he imprisoned the Duke of Norfolk the father, and executed the Earl of Surrey the son; the one, whose deservings he knew not how to value, having never omitted anything that concerned his own honour and the king’s service; the other, never having committed anything worthy of his least displeasure: the one exceeding valiant and advised; the other no less valiant than learned, and of excellent hope. But besides the sorrows which he heaped upon the fatherless and widows at home, and besides the vain enterprises abroad, wherein it is thought that he consumed more treasure than all our victorious kings did in their several conquests; what causeless and cruel wars did he make upon his own nephew King James the Fifth! What laws and wills did he devise, to establish this kingdom in his own issues! using his sharpest weapons to cut off and cut down those branches, which sprang from the same root that himself did. And in the end (notwithstanding these his so many irreligious provisions) it pleased God to take away all his own, without increase; though, for themselves in their several kinds, all princes of eminent virtue.