Thursday, January 26, 2023

Report on the 13th Annual EDI Symposium: "Be Not Afraid!"

Evidently, no one who attended the 13th Annual EDI Symposium starting on Friday, January 13, suffers from or succumbed to Paraskevidekatriaphobia, taking the title to heart: Be Not Afraid! (of Friday the 13th)!

One of the banners near the speaker's table featured a stanza from this poem by Saint John Henry Newman:

Consolation
"It is I; be not afraid."

WHEN I sink down in gloom or fear,
Hope blighted or delay'd,
Thy whisper, Lord, my heart shall cheer,
"'Tis I; be not afraid!"


Or, startled at some sudden blow,
If fretful thoughts I feel,
"Fear not, it is but I!" shall flow,
As balm my wound to heal.

Nor will I quit Thy way, though foes
Some onward pass defend;
From each rough voice the watchword goes,
"Be not afraid! ... a friend!" 

And oh! when judgment's trumpet clear
Awakes me from the grave,
Still in its echo may I hear,
"'Tis Christ; He comes to save."

At Sea.
June 23, 1833.

The symposium this year featured James Matthew Wilson (Catholic), Jake Meador (Protestant), & Fr. John Strickland (Orthodox), and was held at St. George Orthodox Cathedral here in Wichita, Kansas. Eighth Day Books had an annex of the store on-site selling books, icons, etc, especially featuring the presenters' publications and books on associated topics.

The main feature I want to mention is the post-Covid atmosphere of the event. That may be controversial to say, but since James Matthew Wilson's first presentation was "T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets, & Quarantine Notebook: What Writing Taught Me About Our Divided Times", it seems appropriate. Wilson provided an overview of the historical occasion of Eliot's The Four Quartets, inspired in part to demonstrate that there was an "England" to be defended, fought for, and died for during World War II, and then discussed his own poetic production of news reports in iambic pentameter published serially in Dappled Things online. As Wilson noted, the composition of the poems bore two fruits: "The concrete fruit was a book-length poem; the intellectual fruit was a new and deepened perspective on the divisions in our country and the strange commonality Americans experience in and through that division." 

He also presented a second Plenary session as the keynote speaker, which a close friend of mine really enjoyed because she's studied and read the works of Hans Urs von Balthasar since she wrote her master's thesis: "A World without Beauty: von Balthasar, Plato, & the Ordering of the Soul".

It's also appropriate to bring up this post-Covid aspect because this year all our speakers could attend and arrive on time (in spite of the FAA shut down earlier in the week). Last year Rod Dreher HAD Covid and could not even offer his presentations via Zoom (laryngitis!). Nevertheless everything went well last year: we just all stayed in the Fellowship Hall for all the presentations.

We had competing breakouts this year, with two held in the Cathedral's chapel which I did not attend (described here and here), and two held in the Fellowship Hall, which I did attend (described here and here).

As usual, we had a beautiful Festal Banquet Friday night, with music, including hymns and chants by the St. George Orthodox Cathedral Choir, the story of the saint honored that night, St. Paul of Thebes, a desert hermit whose story we know because St. Anthony of the Desert visited him--and we know the story of that visit because St. Athanasius wrote about in his Life of St. Anthony! The three speakers also presented reflections.

After all that talk of the desert, the only way your table could have dessert after dinner was if someone at the table won a dessert in the raffle!! I won three $!$!$! (Shared one at our table; shared another at a table without a dessert; saved one (cinnamon rolls) for breakfast at the second day of the Symposium.)

We ended the Symposium on Saturday with a panel discussion and then with a special meeting of those Eighth Day Institute members who had attended--with a wine and cheese reception.

As I've said before, the EDI Symposium is a great event, well worth travelling to each Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Weekend! The Dates and Theme for the 2024 Symposium are already set:

The Dates: January 10 through 13, 2024 (January 10 and 11 for the Pre-Symposium Seminar at the EDI Ladder and January 12 and 13 for the Symposium at St. George Orthodox Cathedral). 

The Theme: "Attend Unto Thyself". At least one speaker is confirmed: Mark Bauerlein of Emory University and First Things

Please bookmark the EDI website, sign up for email updates, and join us--as a member and an attendee--for "Conversations you can't have anywhere else!" with friends you didn't know you had!

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Roland Millare at Eighth Day Books

Last Wednesday, January 18, Eighth Day Books hosted a presentation and book signing by Roland Millare. He was in Wichita for a program at the Spiritual Life Center and wanted to visit Eighth Day Books.

His book--adapted from his dissertation under the director of Matthew Levering--is titled A Living Sacrifice: Liturgy and Eschatology in Joseph Ratzinger which

. . .  focuses on the inherent relationship between eschatology and the liturgy in light of Ratzinger’s insistence upon the primacy of logos over ethos. When logos is subordinated to ethos, the human person becomes subjected to a materialist ontology that leads to an ethos that is concerned above all by utility and progress, which affects one’s approach to understanding the liturgy and eschatology. How a person celebrates the liturgy becomes subject to the individual whim of one person or a group of people. Eschatology is reduced to addressing the temporal needs of a society guided by a narrow conception of hope or political theology. If the human person wants to understand his authentic sacramental logos, then he must first turn to Christ the incarnate Logos, who reveals to him that he is created for a loving relationship with God and others.

The primacy of logos is the central hermeneutical key to understanding the unique vision of Ratzinger’s Christocentric liturgical theology and eschatology. This is coupled with a study of Ratzinger’s spiritual Christology with a focus on how it influences his theology of liturgy and eschatology through the notions of participation and communion in Christ’s sacrificial love. Finally, A Living Sacrifice examines Ratzinger’s theology of hope, charity, and beauty, as well as his understanding of active participation in relationship to the eschatological and cosmic characteristics of the sacred liturgy.

I had seen the book before at Eighth Day Books and commented that the cover, featuring one of Fra Angelico's paintings of the Last Judgment, was a major selling point! It has been added to my growing pile of books to read, received since my birthday and Christmas last month, although I have read the introduction, so I've jumped the gun. I purchased it with a Christmas gift certificate. Several copies are available at the store!

One highlight of the evening was that the author brought his copy of my book all the way from Houston for me to sign--he autographed my copy of his book, and I autographed his copy of mine, which, by the way, is also available at Eighth Day Books! 

We had a good turnout (I'd sent a blurb to the editor of the Catholic Advance for the weekly e-mail newsletter, and the Theology Department at Newman University promoted it too!) 

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Some Recent Newman Blog Posts from Father Velez

In the wake of Pope Benedict XVI's death on December 31, 2022, Father Juan Velez has been posting some interesting commentary on connections between the late Pope Emeritus and Saint John Henry Newman. The first I'd like to highlight also includes Pope Saint John Paul II, all on Faith and Reason (Fides et Ratio):

Since the sixteenth century there has often been a mistaken understanding and confrontation between faith and reason. John Henry Newman, Carol Wojtyla and Joseph Ratzinger are among the outstanding modern Christian thinkers who have best explained the correct relationship between faith and reason. These authors dealt with the problem of skepticism and moral relativism in culture, philosophy and religion.

In the mid-nineteenth century, John Henry Newman, delivered a series of sermons on the subject of faith and reason.These are known as his Oxford University Sermons. In these sermons Newman defends the rational nature of faith. For him the act of faith involves an act of reason. In other words, the faith is something which does not contradict reason but which reaches beyond the limits of reason. In one of the sermons, Newman explains: “(Thus) Faith is the reasoning of a religious mind, or of what Scripture calls a right or renewed heart, which acts upon presumptions rather than evidence, which speculates and ventures on the future when it cannot make sure of it.” The certainty of human faith is based on the confluence of many associations, perceptions and antecedent beliefs. But religious faith is based on God’s revelation of himself rather than human evidences obtained from the material sciences. . . .

Please read the rest there.

The second is about Pope Benedict XVI and Saint John Henry Newman on the Roman Rite of the Catholic Mass, which includes a discussion of Benedict XVI's Summorum Pontificum:

It is clear then that Newman found beauty and solace in the Mass. It is because of this very understanding that Pope Benedict sought to clarify his position regarding this venerable Mass of Newman’s time and the post-Conciliar Mass of Paul VI. He made it one of his priorities to introduce the ‘hermeneutic of continuity’ to show that the pre-conciliar liturgy of the 1962 Missal is the same liturgy as the Roman Missal of Pope Paul VI. For this reason, he termed the, Traditional Latin Mass “The Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite” and the post conciliar Mass of Paul VI he termed “The Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite.” As Bishop Conley of Nebraska wrote, “Pope Benedict desired the traditions to harmonize … so the cross-pollination could take place; the very best of the reforms of the post-conciliar liturgy could be enhanced and influenced, by an open, unbiased acceptance of the Mass that preceded it.” Pope Benedict described his goal of a slow and gradual process that was meant to begin with Summorum Pontificum and could eventually result in a “mutual enrichment” of the two forms.

Newman’s love for Mass is evident, writes Fr. Michael Lang, of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in London. He notes that Newman’s love for the Mass is evident in his novel Loss and Gain: The Story of a Convert, published anonymously in 1848. In this novel, there are descriptions of Mass and Benediction by the Catholic converts Willis and Reding, which are autobiographical. Fr. Lang writes that we know of Newman’s love of the Roman Breviary before his conversion, since he prayed the Divine Office daily at Littlemore. This prayer of the Church was very influential in his subsequent conversion. (quoted from “St. John Henry Newman and the Liturgy“ in Adoremus Bulletin).

At the end of that article, Father Velez directs readers to a chapter in a new book about Newman, edited by Father Velez and published by Catholic University of America Press: A Guide to John Henry Newman: His Life and Thought (I'll certainly have to wait for the paperback!)

One of my most treasured memories is the day Mark and I watched the Mass on September 19, 2010, when Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Henry Newman. We had watched as many of the events on EWTN as we could, and I obtained the official record of the State Visit (cover pictured above)! After the Mass and the commentary on EWTN concluded, my recorded episode with Doug Keck aired on EWTN's Bookmark!

Friday, January 6, 2023

SRMS Preview: Newman on the Season of Epiphany


Resuming and completing our Advent/Christmas reflections based on sermons selected and edited by Christopher O. Blum in Waiting for Christ: Meditations for Advent and Christmas, I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show on Monday, January 9, 2023! (Trying to get used to that new year number.) Anna Mitchell or Matt Swaim and I will discuss Newman's Parochial and Plain Sermon from January 17, 1841, "The Season of Epiphany".

So I'll be on the air at my usual time, about 6:50 a.m. Central/7:50 a.m. Eastern. Please listen live here and remember that you may find the recording of the show later that day on the Son Rise Morning Show website!

Our liturgical calendar this year according to the 1970/2002 revisions of the Roman Calendar makes it a little difficult to see the Season of Epiphany. The "Epiphany of the Lord" is traditionally represented by three events: the Visit of Magi, the Baptism of the Lord, and the Marriage Feast of Cana.

The feast of Epiphany was moved from January 6 to the Sunday celebration on January 8, and this year, we celebrate the feast of The Baptism of Jesus on Monday, January 9, instead of the following Sunday! And this liturgical year (B for the Sunday readings; only Year C for Sunday readings includes that Gospel), we won't read about the Marriage Feast of Cana, to which Newman alludes in the verse for this sermon:

"This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth His glory; and His disciples believed on Him." (John 2:11)

Newman begins with a review of the how the liturgical year helps us reflect on the Life of Christ:

THE Epiphany is a season especially set apart for adoring the glory of Christ. The word may be taken to mean the manifestation of His glory, and leads us to the contemplation of Him as a King upon His throne in the midst of His court, with His servants around Him, and His guards in attendance. At Christmas we commemorate His grace; and in Lent His temptation; and on Good Friday His sufferings and death; and on Easter Day His victory; and on Holy Thursday His return to the Father; and in Advent we anticipate His second coming. And in all of these seasons He does something, or suffers something: but in the Epiphany and the weeks after it, we celebrate Him, not as on His field of battle, or in His solitary retreat, but as an august and glorious King; we view Him as the Object of our worship. 

He does focus on the visit of the Magi and there places Jesus on His earthly throne, His mother's lap:

Then only, during His whole earthly history, did He fulfil the type of Solomon, and held (as I may say) a court, and received the homage of His subjects; viz. when He was an infant. His throne was His undefiled Mother's arms; His chamber of state was a cottage or a cave; the worshippers were the wise men of the East, and they brought presents, gold, frankincense, and myrrh. All around and about Him seemed of earth, except to the eye of faith; one note alone had He of Divinity. As great men of this world are often plainly dressed, and look like other men, all but as having some one costly ornament on their breast or on their brow; so the Son of Mary in His lowly dwelling, and in an infant's form, was declared to be the Son of God Most High, the Father of Ages, and the Prince of Peace, by His star; a wonderful appearance which had guided the wise men all the way from the East, even unto Bethlehem.

And Newman continues that theme of Our Lord's majesty being manifested mostly during His early years--before and after His birth--in the Incarnation and Infancy:

The only display of royal greatness, the only season of majesty, homage, and glory, which our Lord had on earth, was in His infancy and youth. Gabriel's message to Mary was in its style and manner such as befitted an Angel speaking to Christ's Mother. Elisabeth, too, saluted Mary, and the future Baptist his hidden Lord, in the same honourable way. Angels announced His birth, and the shepherds worshipped. A star appeared, and the wise men rose from the East and made Him offerings. He was brought to the temple, and Simeon took Him in His arms, and returned thanks for Him. He grew to twelve years old, and again He appeared in the temple, and took His seat in the midst of the doctors. But here His earthly majesty had its end, or if seen afterwards, it was but now and then, by glimpses and by sudden gleams, but with no steady sustained light, and no diffused radiance. . . .

[Here we might think of the Transfiguration as one of those glimpses or gleams, but even that glorious event was a secret to be shared by the three Apostles until after His Passion and Resurrection--His exodus as St. Luke's Gospel describes what Jesus, Moses, and Elijah are discussing.]

We are told at the close of the last-mentioned narrative, "And He went down with His parents, and came to Nazareth, and was subjected unto them." (Luke 2:51) His subjection and servitude now began in fact. He had come in the form of a servant, and now He took on Him a servant's office. How much is contained in the idea of His subjection! and it began, and His time of glory ended, when He was twelve years old.

After introducing the example of King Solomon above, Newman emphasizes the difference between that King of Israel and the King of the World:

Solomon, the great type of the Prince of Peace, reigned forty years, and his name and greatness was known far and wide through the East. Joseph, the much-loved son of Jacob, who in an earlier age of the Church, was a type of Christ in His kingdom, was in power and favour eighty years, twice as long as Solomon. But Christ, the true Revealer of secrets, and the Dispenser of the bread of life, the true wisdom and majesty of the Father, manifested His glory but in His early years, and then the Sun of Righteousness was clouded. For He was not to reign really, till He left the world. He has reigned ever since; nay, reigned in the world, though He is not in sensible presence in it—the invisible King of a visible kingdom—for He came on earth but to show what His reign would be, after He had left it, and to submit to suffering and dishonour, that He might reign.

Remember that when Our Lord spoke of the lilies of the field, he contrasted their glories with Solomon's: "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they labour not, neither do they spin. But I say to you, that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these." (Matthew 6:28-29)

As always, Newman offers a conclusion to apply what he's elucidated to his congregation. He reminds us that if Our Lord enjoyed but a brief time of glory and majesty, and then submitted to a life of obedience not just to His Heavenly Father's Will but to his earthly parents' wills, we have to follow His pattern and be grateful for the seasons of His Life and our own:

For all seasons we must thank Him, for time of sorrow and time of joy, time of warfare and time of peace. And the more we thank Him for the one, the more we shall be drawn to thank Him for the other. Each has its own proper fruit, and its own peculiar blessedness. Yet our mortal flesh shrinks from the one, and of itself prefers the other;—it prefers rest to toil, peace to war, joy to sorrow, health to pain and sickness. When then Christ gives us what is pleasant, let us take it as a refreshment by the way, that we may, when God calls, go in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb, the mount of God. Let us rejoice in Epiphany with trembling, that after the Baptism we may go into the vineyard with the labourers with cheerfulness, and may sorrow in Lent with thankfulness; let us rejoice now, not as if we have attained, but in hope of attaining. Let us take our present happiness, not as our true rest, but, as what the land of Canaan was to the Israelites,—a type and shadow of it. If we now enjoy God's ordinances, let us not cease to pray that they may prepare us for His presence hereafter. If we enjoy the presence of friends, let them remind us of the communion of saints before His throne. Let us trust in nothing here, yet draw hope from every thing—that at length the Lord may be our everlasting light, and the days of our mourning may be ended.

Newman is advising us to enter into the rhythms of the Liturgical Year as a way of persevering through the seasons of our own lives: times of anticipation; times of fulfillment. He contrasts the times of feasting and celebration with the times of fasting and sorrow--and even reminds us of the ultimate change of season: from our earthly life to everlasting life. Newman loved his friends and family on earth but knows he has even greater friends and family in the communion of saints, and offers us that consolation.

Saint John Henry Newman, pray for us!

Image Credit (Public Domain): Gerard David, "Adoration of the Magi".

Image Credit (Public Domain): "Solomon and the plan for the First Temple." Illustration from a Bible card

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Book Review: Lead Kindly Light: Essays for Ian Ker

One thing reading this book has done is help me decide what to read next. While I'll continue to dip in to read a chapter from Mary Katherine Tillman's John Henry Newman: Man of Letters, after reading the penultimate essay in this book New Years Eve, Stephen Morgan's "The Combat of Truth and Error: Newman and Chesterton on Heresy", I know I'll pick up Matthew Levering's Newman on Doctrinal Corruption next.

I have too many stars beside the 18 essays and articles in Lead Kindly Light to discuss them all. Of course, I appreciated the three biographical offerings in the first section, "Along the Way of Life: Reminiscences", especially Bishop James Conley's, since he was our pastor at both the Newman Center at WSU and at Blessed Sacrament.

Of "The Trinity of Cardinals", I enjoyed hearing the "voice" of Cardinal Pell so clearly in his contribution, adapted from his Saint Thomas More Lecture in Oxford in November of 2021.

All four essays in the "Some Devotional Theology" section were excellent: Father Geissler, FSO on Newman's appreciation of the great charisms of Saint Paul, Father Beaumont, CO, on Newman's patron as an Oratorian, St. Philip Neri; Sister Dietz, FSO (another Newman scholar Bishop Conley brought to Wichita, and who returned to give a Newman Lecture at Newman University several years later; she also met me, my late husband Mark and the late Father William Carr at one of the fountains on St. Peters's Square in 2002 to lead us to the bus for a visit to the Newman Centre of the Spiritual Family the Work in Rome!!) on Newman's growth in belief and devotion to the Holy Eucharist; and Father Jones, OP, tracing Newman's exploration of Mary, the Mother of God, as the New Eve.

In the "Man of Letters" section, the only essay I thought lacked a certain focus was Father James Reidy's on Newman and Henry James, explaining how both Newman and James were ambivalent about the virtues of the "gentleman" and how a gentleman practices those virtues with all their limitations. I was already familiar with Edward Short's works on Newman and Gibbon from other sources (Newman and History, for example). Andrew Nash corrects another canard about Newman that it was only once Newman became a Catholic that he wielded the weapon of satire with his pen. And, speaking of satire, Serenhedd James surveys how the magazine Punch treated Newman through the years.

Both articles in the "Contributions to the Academy" section (Andrew Meszaros on "A Philosophical Habit of Mind: Newman and the University" and Paul Shrimpton on "Newman and the Idea of a Tutor") helped me understand Newman's Idea of a University and his vision for a university tutor better. I think too often Newman's famous vision of a university is taken merely as a plea for a "liberal arts education", but Meszaros reminded me that an important part of Newman's work is to form a habit of mind and an ability to think about issues clearly. Meszaros' seven principles on which to found a philosophical habit of mind are very helpful. For examples, the first three:

1. Reality is intelligible.
2. The intellect is made for reality and capable of knowledge of the whole.
3. Truth does not contradict truth. (see pages 258-259

Paul Shrimpton's essays reveals how Newman wanted a tutor--at both Oriel in Oxford and the Catholic University in Dublin--to guide his students individually in their studies, helping each student in the way the particular student needed; more guidance for slower students, teaching them how to study, hear lectures, read and write academically, etc., while more adept students needed encouragement in other ways. Perhaps they needed help to avoid what Newman even had to repent of, valuing intellectual excellence above all else, even moral excellence and growth.

I've already mentioned how Stephen Morgan's essay encouraged me to pick Levering's book next--for certainly "doctrinal corruptions" are a form of heresy, are they not?--but the late Father Dermot Fenlon's bracing "De-Christianizing England: Newman, Mill, and the Stationary State" is also a great reminder of how Newman's lifelong battle against liberalism, which always becomes a form of tyranny even as it pretends to toleration and diversity, offers us a guide in our century for remaining true to nature, reality, and the Catholic Faith which helps us understand them. I only regret that my decision to read Levering's book next puts off my reading of Fenlon on Cardinal Pole. But I've already moved my Newman holy card/bookmark to the next book; the die is cast!

Highly recommended as both a tribute to Father Ian Ker, may he rest in peace, and Saint John Henry Newman, may he pray for us! 

Please note that I purchased this book at Eighth Day Books.

Monday, January 2, 2023

Pope Benedict XVI, RIP

I woke up early Saturday morning December 31 because I intended to go to daily Mass for the seventh day of the Christmas Octave and the last day of the year 2022 and heard the BBC announce Pope Benedict XVI's death. My Facebook feed was filling up with posts about his death before and after I attended Mass at Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, where we prayed for the repose of his soul and witnessed a young boy receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation (thus, sotto voce renewing my Baptismal Promises!! as he did). I saw a friend who looked most disconsolate, but later saw his Facebook post to friends, mentioning that it was hard in a way to reconcile this grief at Benedict XVI's death with the grief he'd felt on February 11, 2013, when Pope Benedict resigned.

And that reminded me of that day, when I was all set to talk to Brian Patrick (then the host of the show)on the Son Rise Morning Show about Shrovetide, Confession, pancakes and pancake races. Then producer Matt Swaim emailed me with a change in topic: we would instead discuss Pope Benedict and the English Reformation, highlighting the September 2010 visit to Scotland and England, the establishment of the Anglican Ordinariate, and the beatification of John Henry Newman--all the ways Benedict had tried to heal the wounds of the sixteenth century. 

Memories!

Later on Saturday, December 31, 2022, I attended the 4:00 p.m. Vigil Mass at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church (my home parish since April of 1991), which was a special Mass for the closing of our diocesan year of Eucharistic Revival. Blessed Sacrament had been the designated pilgrimage church/shrine for the diocese throughout 2022. A portrait of Pope Benedict had been placed, most appropriately, beside the Saint Joseph shrine (with the three kings still prepared to visit Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in the Nativity Scene in front of the shrine to the Madonna).

Bishop Carl Kemme offered the Mass for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, and of course mentioned Pope Benedict's death, offered prayers for the repose of his soul, etc. In the midst of his sermon, Bishop Kemme reviewed his efforts, through exhortations to the priests and the faithful of the diocese, to renew our knowledge and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament during the past year. In the course of his sermon, he exhorted us to read or re-read Pope Benedict XVI's Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of February 22, 2007, Sacramentum Caritatis, to the Bishops, Clergy, Consecrated Persons and the Lay Faithful On the Eucharist as the Source and Summit of the Church's Life and Mission.

So I'm searching for my copy today!

Eternal rest grant unto to him, O Lord, and let the Perpetual Light shine upon him. May the soul of Joseph Aloysius Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, and all the souls of the faithful departed, rest in peace. May he rest in peace. Amen.

Friday, December 30, 2022

SRMS Schedule Update and The Feast of the Holy Family

Contrary to previous reports, I will not be live on the Son Rise Morning Show this coming Monday, January 2, 2023!! The show's staff has the day off! 

So instead, we'll wrap up our Newman Advent/Christmas series on Monday, January 9, 2023 at my usual time, about 6:50 a.m. Central/7:50 a.m. Eastern, with an appropriate sermon for Epiphany, which we will just have celebrated on Sunday--including a mention of the Baptism of Our Lord, which we will be celebrating that day!

Today, however, is the Feast of the Holy Family! As the Catholic Culture website explains:

Today is the Sixth Day in the Octave of Christmas. When there is no Sunday within the Octave of Christmas, the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph is celebrated on the Sixth Day of the Octave of Christmas.

"Scripture tells us practically nothing about the first years and the boyhood of the Child Jesus. All we know are the facts of the sojourn in Egypt, the return to Nazareth, and the incidents that occurred when the twelve-year-old boy accompanied his parents to Jerusalem. In her liturgy the Church hurries over this period of Christ's life with equal brevity. The general breakdown of the family, however, at the end of the past century and at the beginning of our own, prompted the popes, especially the far-sighted Leo XIII, to promote the observance of this feast with the hope that it might instill into Christian families something of the faithful love and the devoted attachment that characterize the family of Nazareth. The primary purpose of the Church in instituting and promoting this feast is to present the Holy Family as the model and exemplar of all Christian families." —Excerpted from With Christ Through the Year, Rev. Bernard Strasser, O.S.B.

In addition to promoting the Feast, Pope Leo XIII composed the hymns for Matins, Vespers, and Lauds. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:

The Holy See instituted the feast in 1893, making it a duplex majus (greater double) and assigning it to the third Sunday after Epiphany. Leo XIII composed the three hymns (Vespers, Matins, Lauds) of the Breviary Office. The hymn for Matins contains nine Sapphic stanzas of the classical type . . . .

The hymns for Vespers (O lux beata caelitum) and Lauds (O gente felix hospita) are in classical dimeter iambics, four-lined stanzas, of which the Vespers hymn contains six and the Lauds hymn seven exclusive of the usual Marian doxology (Jesu tibi sit gloria). All three hymns are replete with spiritual unction, graceful expression, and classical dignity of form. They reflect the sentiment of the pope in his letter establishing a Pious Association in honour of the Holy Family and in his Encyclical dealing with the condition of working-men.

Pope Leo XIII holds a special place in my heart because he made Father John Henry Newman of the Oratory a Cardinal, even though he knew it might cause trouble, and referred to Newman as ‘Il mio cardinale’ (My Cardinal)!

The December 2020 Magnificat prayer magazine had a translation of his Matins hymn for Morning Prayer and of his Lauds hymn for Evening Prayer. This year, Magnificat, as it did in 2021, has again included a translation of his Lauds hymn for Evening Prayer!

More about these hymns and translations may be found here.

It's still Christmas: Merry Christmas!

Image credit (Public Domain): French holy card, 1890.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Just Another Catholic Recusant Poet: Edmund Bolton

Because I discovered Mrs. Dorothy Lawson's father, Henry Constable, the poet, I learned about one of Constable's contemporaries and friends, Edmund Bolton. Bolton was a poet and historian, born in 1575. According to Father Herbert Thurston, SJ in the Catholic Encyclopedia, he died circa 1633 and 

He seems to have been born of Catholic parents in Leicestershire, and must have been of good family and position, for he claims to have continued "many years on his own charge a free commoner at Trinity Hall, Cambridge", and after going to London to study law to have lived there "in the, best and choicest company of gentlemen". There can be no doubt that there was a strong Catholic element among the lawyers of the Inner Temple (Richard Southwell, the father of the martyr, might be named as one example among many), and the tone of the drama and much of the lighter literature of the late Elizabethan and early Jacobean period shows that the Bohemian society into which Bolton and his fellows were thrown was often pronouncedly papist. But while many who for a while were Romanizers, like his friend Ben Jonson, ultimately fell away, Bolton, much to his credit, remained stanch to his principles. Of his ability and zeal in the pursuit of knowledge there can be no question. He was the friend of Cotton and Camden; whose antiquarian researches he shared, and as a writer of verses he was associated with Sidney, Spenser, Raleigh, and others in the publication of "England's Helicon". Many influential friends, including for example the Duke, then Marquess, of Buckingham, tried to help him in his pecuniary embarrassments, but there seems no doubt that his Catholicism stood in the way of his making a living by literature.

Thurston cites as an example of this issue the rejection of his biography of King Henry II because it was too favorable to Saint Thomas a Becket! He did have friends at Court, however, including James I's favorite, George Villiers, the First Duke of Buckingham: 

It seems, however, that through Buckingham's influence he obtained some small post about the court of James I, and in 1617 he proposed to the king some scheme for a royal academy or college of letters which was to be associated with the Order of the Garter, and which was destined in the mind of its designer to convert Windsor Castle into a sort of English Olympus. James I gave some encouragement to the scheme, but died before it was carried into execution. With the accession of Charles I, Bolton seems to have fallen on evil days. The last years of his life were mostly spent either in the Fleet or in the Marshalsea as a prisoner for debt, to which no doubt the fines he incurred as a "recusant convict" largely contributed. The exact date of his death is unknown. Besides his contributions in English verse to "England's Helicon" Bolton wrote a certain amount of Latin poetry.

Here's an example of his verse from England's Helicon. Bolton also wrote Nero Caesar, or Monarchie Depraved (1624), and other works.

The 1885-1900 Dictionary of National Biography has these details about his family and later life:

All his schemes failed. He was now becoming advanced in years. He had a wife [Margaret Porter, the sister of Endymion Porter?] and three sons, and very slender means of support, none indeed at last, for there can he no doubt that he is the ‘Edmund Bolton of St. James, Clerkenwell,' who being assessed as a recusant convict at 6l. in goods, is returned by a collector of the subsidy of 1628 as having to his knowledge no lands or tenements, goods or chattels on which the tax could be levied, ‘but hath been a prisoner in the Fleet’ ever since the assessment was made. The same return was made in 1629, the only difference being that his place of detention was then not the Fleet but the Marshalsea. It was after this that he made his appeal to the city authorities [for a detailed history of London], and he appears to have made some progress with the work; but here he found himself anticipated by his friend Ben Jonson, who had promised to prepare for them ‘Chronological Annals;’ and when he talked of the history and the map costing 3,000l. or 4,000l., Sir Hugh Hammersley told him plainly that in prosecuting the application he would but berating the air. The latest letter of his at present known is addressed to Henry, Lord Falkland, on 20 August 1633. Probably he died soon afterwards, but the exact date of his death is not known.

So he made some progress in his intellectual pursuits, seemed to have some great ideas, the ability and energy to pursue them. Bolton's Catholicism held him back financially, assuredly, but he remained a recusant. The Dictionary of National Biography notes that he thought he was allowed to practice his faith freely [Writing to the secretary Conway on behalf of a catholic priest, he says that King James, whose servant he had been, allowed 'him with his wife and family to live in peace to that conscience in which he was bred' (Calendar of State Papers, Dom. 1625)], but clearly there were costs and consequences. 

I would like to know if his widow and his sons continued to be true to the Catholicism of Bolton, and I hope he was able to receive the Sacrament of Extreme Unction before he died.

Image Credit (Public Domain): Portrait of George Villiers by Peter Paul Rubens.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

A Recusant Household Christmas: Dorothy Lawson (1580-1632)


William Palmes or Palmer wrote The Life of Mrs. Dorothy Lawson, which Father Philip Caraman excerpted in his collection of primary sources The Years of Siege: Catholic Life from James I to Cromwell, describing her rigorous devotional life in contrast to her celebration of Christmas:

In this time of mirth and joy for his birth who is the sole engine and spring of true comfort, she unbent the stiffness of her brow a little, and dispensed with her accustomed rigour in so small a relaxation that I want a diminutive to explain it, unless I deem it that in quantity which philosophers call atoms or indivisibles in quality. . .

She had in a room near the chapel a crib with music to honour that joyful mystery, and, all Christmas, musicians in her hall and dining chamber to recreate her friends and servants. She loved to see them dance, and said that if she were present, greater care would be taken of modesty in their songs and dances.

Perhaps Mrs. Lawson's musicians performed William Byrd's Carroll for Christmas Day, "This Day Christ Was Born" or played this galliard for dancing?

Dorothy's father was Henry Constable, the Recusant poet of Diana (one of the first sonnet cycles in English literature) fame:

Henry was born in 1662 and matriculated at the age of sixteen as a fellow-commoner of St. Joan's College, Cambridge. On 15 Jan. 1579-80 he proceeded B.A. by a special grace of the senate. Wood appears to be in error in asserting that Constable 'spent some time among the Oxonian muses' (Athenæ Oxon, ed. Bliss, i. 14). There is much obscurity about Constable's later life. At an early age he became a Roman catholic, and took up his residence in Paris. Verse by him was meanwhile circulated, apparently in manuscript, among his English friends and gave him a literary reputation. Letters of his addressed to Sir Francis Walsingham from Paris in July 1584 and April 1585 point to his employment for a short time in the spy-service of the English government. In 1595 and the following year he was in communication with Anthony Bacon, Essex's secretary, and his correspondent admitted that his religion was the only thing to his discredit. He was clearly anxious at this period to stand well with Essex, probably with a view to returning home. In a letter addressed to the earl (6 Oct. 1595) he denied that he wished the restitution of Roman Catholicism in England at the risk of submitting his country to foreign tyranny, and begged for an introduction from Essex to the king of France, or for some employment in Essex's service.

Although from 1598 to 1603 he supported James VI's claim to the throne of England, Constable's Catholicism and various efforts to encourage James VI and I to go easy on English Recusant Catholics got him into trouble--and into the Tower--although he was released:

In 1598 Constable was agitating for the formation of a new English catholic college in Paris, and was maturing a scheme by which the catholic powers were to assure King James of Scotland his succession to the English throne, on the understanding that he would relieve the English catholics of their existing disabilities. In March 1598-9 Constable arrived in Edinburgh armed with a commission from the pope; but his request for an interview with James I was refused. He entered into negotiations, however, with the Scottish government in behalf of the papacy, and remained in Scotland till September. After his return to Paris Constable declared that James preferred to rely on the English puritans, and that he had no further interest in the king's cause. He made James a present of a book, apparently his poems, in July 1600. Meanwhile Constable became a pensioner of the king of France, but on James I's accession in England he resolved to risk returning to his own country. He wrote without result (11 June 1603) for the necessary permission to Sir Robert Cecil; came to London nevertheless, and in June of the following year was lodged in the Tower. He petitioned Cecil to procure his release; protested his loyalty, and before December 1604 was set free (Winwood, Memoriall, ii. 36). Nothing is known of his later history except that he died at Liège on 9 Oct. 1613.

Constable was a friend of Sir Philip Sidney (see a post here about that poet and Saint Edmund Campion), and another Catholic poet, Edmund Bolton.

Clearly, Dorothy was dedicated to maintaining the Catholic faith and religion her father had followed. Her biographer, who may have been a Jesuit priest she protected, speaks of her devotion to the Holy Mass and to Holy Communion. Here is a poem attributed to her father, "To the Blessed Sacrament":

WHEN thee (O holy sacrificed Lambe) 
In severed sygnes I whyte and liquide see, 
As on thy body slayne I thynke on thee, 
Which pale by sheddyng of thy bloode became. 
 
And when agayne I doe behold the same         
Vayled in whyte to be receav’d of mee, 
Thou seemest in thy syndon wrapt to bee 
Lyke to a corse, whose monument I am. 
 
Buryed in me, vnto my sowle appeare, 
Pryson’d in earth, and bannisht from thy syght,       
Lyke our forefathers who in lymbo were, 
Cleere thou my thoughtes, as thou did’st gyve them light, 
And as thou others freed from purgyng fyre 
Quenche in my hart the flames of badd desyre.

I hope you are having a festive, merry, happy, and Holy Christmas!! When this post goes live, I'll be at Midnight Mass!

Image Credit (Public Domain): Adoration of the Shepherds by Dutch painter Matthias Stomer, 1632 (the year of Dorothy's death)

Friday, December 23, 2022

"Newman's Epic Journey in the Mediterranean" and "Christmas Without Christ"

On the Fourth Sunday of Advent, a full week before Christmas Day so that we celebrate a whole fourth week of Advent this year (in 2023, December 24--aka Christmas Eve--is also the Fourth Sunday of Advent, and Monday is Christmas Day!), our Lovers of Newman group met at the IHM Convent in Colwich, Kansas. We read a Parochial and Plain Sermon, "The Mystery of Godliness" and enjoyed a vibrant discussion, both spiritual and theological. Our hostess, one of the IHM Sisters, also offered us a Christmas verse by Saint John Henry Newman, written while he was on his great Mediterranean voyage/pilgrimage with Richard Hurrell Froude and Froude's father, Robert Froude, the Archdeacon of Totnes.

The poem is number 49 in Newman's Verses on Various Occasions, composed on Christmas Day, December 25, 1832, while Newman was in Malta:

Christmas Without Christ

HOW can I keep my Christmas feast
    In its due festive show,
Reft of the sight of the High Priest
    From whom its glories flow?

I hear the tuneful bells around,
    The blessèd towers I see;
A stranger on a foreign ground,
    They peal a fast for me.

O Britons! now so brave and high,
    How will ye weep the day
When Christ in judgment passes by,
    And calls the Bride away! {99}

Your Christmas then will lose its mirth,
    Your Easter lose its bloom:
Abroad, a scene of strife and dearth;
    Within, a cheerless home!

In December of 2020, Father Juan Velez provided some context to the poem on the Saint John Henry Newman website:

St. John Henry Newman reminds us of the emptiness of Christmas without Christ. He titled some verses with these words on December 25, 1832, when he found himself quarantined in Malta, unable to attend the Christmas service.

Newman was quarantined and had a bad cold--and was on a very Catholic island. As The Malta Independent explains, he wouldn't have any Protestant, English church in which to pray or preach on Christmas Day, even if he could have left his hotel:

He caught a bad cold there and was forced to convalesce in the Beverly Hotel in West Street, Valletta. Because of his illness he was only able to visit Valletta and St Paul’s Bay before departing for Messina, in Italy, on 7 February. He was impressed by the kindness of the Maltese, the ringing of the church bells, the many images of saints – especially those of the Madonna – adorning our streets and, of course, the magnificence of St John’s Church – now Cathedral. He remonstrated with the Protestant authorities here why such a magnificent church was not turned into a Protestant church as the Protestants had nowhere appropriate in which to pray. . . .

Reading the poem again later, I was reminded of Mary Katherine Tillman's essay on ""Realizing" the Classical Authors: Newman's Epic Journey in the Mediterranean" originally published in the Newman Studies Journal, 3:2 (Fall, 2006) but included in her 2015 volume of articles and essays, John Henry Newman: Man of Letters. I've been dipping in to this volume as I read Lead Kindly Light, the festschrift for the recently deceased Father Ian Ker.

She explains how Newman, as a reader of the Greek and Latin classics, had prepared for this great journey by bringing Thucydides's History of the Peloponnesian War, Homer, and Virgil--no guide books written for tourists--but books whose historical and literary highlights Newman experienced not just as a reader of the classics, but as a visitor to their sites, in a way never before. Tillman notes that Newman's letters were filled with poetic descriptions of these locations, Patras, Ithaca, Gibraltar, Mount Vesuvius, Virgil's tomb in Naples, Corfu, etc. He wrote 31 poems during the days of his journey, which were published as the "Lyra Apostolica" in the British Magazine. Tillman uses this greater appreciation of the classics as an example of how Newman uses the imagination to move from a notional apprehension of a subject to a real knowledge of it.

Even in the midst of that appreciation of the classics of ancient Greece and Rome, however, Newman was still thinking of religious matters, and thus his poems about Saint Paul, Moses, David and Jonathan, the Greek Fathers, and indeed, troubles in the Christian world, including in the Church of England.

In these last two days of Advent, I wish you a very Merry Christmas season.