Friday, December 1, 2023

Preview: Saint Edmund Campion, SJ in Father Bowden's "Mementoes"

There are many reasons to admire, imitate and be inspired by Saint Edmund Campion, SJ: his intelligence, his courage, his care for his flock (he went back to a house to minister to the Catholics there and was thus captured), his ability to defend the teachings of the Church, and of course, his holiness, well attested by his martyrdom. 

Thus it's no surprise that Father Henry Sebastian Bowden mentions Campion 20 (twenty) times in his Mementoes of the English Martyrs and Confessors For Every Day in the Year, not counting the poem Saint Henry Walpole, SJ wrote about his mentor in martyrdom (Campion's blood splashed on Walpole and he left London to study for the priesthood and return to England as a missionary and martyr) included as an appendix ("Why do I use my paper, ynke and penne?") 

And it's no surprise that we'll look at what Father Bowden says about Campion's martyrdom in our next segment on the Son Rise Morning Show on Monday, December 4.

I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show at my usual time at about 6:50 a.m. Central/7:50 a.m. Eastern, the last segment in the second national hour on EWTN Radio. Please listen live here and/or catch the podcast later here.

I chose the most dramatic of the mementoes Father Bowden offers, the description of the day of Campion's martyrdom, December 1, 1581, with the title "A Sight to God and Man" because of the richness of the details in the account. As we read the description, we can try to imagine what that day was like, as though we are witnessing it:

In the splash and mud of a wet December morning, Campion was led forth from the Tower, still in his old gown of Irish frieze. Undaunted he saluted the vast crowd, saying, “God save you all, gentlemen! God bless you and make you all good Catholics!” 

Irish frieze was a coarse, woven woolen cloth, very durable, with the nap left on one side. This garment would have been stripped from Campion once his execution began. On his way to a horrible death, Campion is both undaunted and loyal to his mission as a Catholic priest: to offer blessings and good will.

After kneeling in prayer he was strapped on the hurdle, Sherwin and Briant being together bound on a second hurdle. They were dragged at the horses’ tails through the gutter and filth, followed by an insulting crowd of ministers and rabble. 

Saint Ralph Sherwin, SJ (31 years old) and Saint Alexander Briant (25 years old) had been imprisoned, tortured, and tried at the same as Campion (41 years old). They and other Catholic priests had been accused of complicity in the Rome and Reims Plot, an invention of the Court. The gutters and streets would have been wet, and dirty not just from mud but from horses' dung and other waste. That was below them; above them were insults and curses.

Still some Catholics were consoled by a word from him, and one gentleman, like Veronica on another Via Dolorosa, most courteously wiped his face all spattered with mire and filth. Passing under the arch of Newgate, whereon still stood an image of Our Lady, Campion raised himself and saluted the Queen of Heaven, whom he hoped so soon to see. 

These two gestures of honor, one to comfort Campion and the other to show devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, are moving intervals as the martyrs are drawn to brutal executions.

At the gallows he began with a sweet firm voice, “Spectaculum facti sumus Deo Angelis et hominibus,”* but the Sheriffs interrupted him, and urged him to confess his treason. He repeatedly maintained his innocence, and having declined to join in prayer with the ministers, asked all Catholics for a Credo for him in his agony, and while again professing his loyalty to the Queen he went to his reward.

Campion begins by citing the verse Father Bowden includes in this memento, from St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians: *“ We are made a spectacle to the world, to angels and to men.”—1 Cor. 5:9. 

In his biography of Saint Edmund Campion, Richard Simpson cited the martyr's last words:
"I am a Catholic man and a priest; in that faith have I lived, and in that faith do I intend to die. If you esteem my religion treason, then am I guilty; as for other treason, I never committed any, God is my judge. But you have now what you desire. I beseech you to have patience, and suffer me to speak a word or two for discharge of my conscience."

He was not allowed to continue and his execution was almost another trial as he was questioned again about his loyalty to the Pope as the head of the Catholic Church and/or to the Queen of England. His final statement was:

"Wherein have I offended her? In this I am innocent. This is my last speech; in this give me credit — I have and do pray for her." Then the Lord Charles Howard asked of him for which queen he prayed, whether for Elizabeth the queen. To whom he answered, "Yea, for Elizabeth, your queen and my queen, unto whom I wish a long quiet reign with all prosperity."
Then he was stripped, hanged until barely conscious, eviscerated, beheaded, and quartered. During this agony, his blood splashed on the bystander, Henry Walpole. Then Sherwin and Briant endured the same agony. 

How long could I -- or you -- have watched it?

He and his companions, and Henry Walpole, were canonized among the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales by Pope St. Paul VI in Rome on October 25, 1970.

Saint Edmund Campion, pray for us!
Saint Ralph Sherwin, pray for us!
Saint Alexander Briant, pray for us!
Saint Henry Walpole, pray for us!

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Book Review: "Betrayed Without a Kiss"

After I posted the cover of John Clark's Betrayed Without a Kiss: Defending Marriage after Years of Failed Leadership in the Church, I contacted the author. He had the publisher send me a review copy--I offered particularly to comment on his treatment of Henry VIII's Great Matter of the validity of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon and its aftermath, but of course I read the entire book. 

In the first chapter, Clark sets up the Biblical basis of Catholic Church teaching on the purposes and sacramental nature of marriage with readings from Genesis (Adam and Eve), Tobit (Tobias and Sarah), and the St. John's Gospel (Wedding Feast of Cana).

The book is often historical in theme and treatment, looking at historical events in the Church, the world, and the United States: not only Henry VIII's marital machinations (Chapter 2), but the Lutheran demotion of Marriage from a Sacrament to a civil contract, to be overseen by the State and the Catholic response at the Council of Trent; contrasting the Anglican change-of-mind on contraception at Lambeth in 1930 (reversing statements in 1908 and 1920) with Pope Pius XI's re-iteration of Catholic doctrine on the purposes of marriage and why contraception was not allowed in Casti Connubii in the same year. (Chapter 3)

Clark also looks at two social and moral trends in the past and their influences on the present: one that generally affects men more than women (pornography; through Hugh Hefner's Playboy philosophy), and one that influences women more than men (feminism, via Simone Beauvoir, Gloria Steinem, and Betty Friedan). Both, he says, contribute to a view that marriage and family are either not necessary to human satisfaction (pornography) or is detrimental to human fulfillment (feminism): they condition men and women to seek happiness outside of marriage and family. (Chapter 4)

Then he turns to the crisis of confidence within in the Church in Chapter 5, noting the dissident reaction to Humanae Vitae, which as Clark points out, was merely the reaffirmation of Pope Pius XI's re-iteration of Catholic doctrine on the purposes of marriage noted above. In Chapter 6, he looks again, historically, at a trend in the granting of decrees of nullity notably in the USA on the basis of a defect of consent, which Pope St. John Paul II deplored in several addresses to the Roman Rota (pages 159-163). Finally, in Chapter 7, he looks at more recent history: the controversial apostolic exhortation Pope Francis issued in 2016, Amoris Laetitia, and footnote 351 in chapter 8. In his discussion of that document and Cardinal Walter Kasper's efforts at the Synod on the Family to argue for allowing Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried, Clark cites Archbishop Samuel Aquila's article "Did Thomas More and John Fisher Die for Nothing?"

In the next three chapters, about pre-Cana programs (Chapter 8), how the Church can help married couples and families (Chapter 9), and how the married laity can help themselves, Clark offers different recommendations. As I read these chapters, I noted the anecdotal nature of some of these situations. He writes about priests not always being involved in pre-Cana programs, and that may be true in some dioceses, but I know not all. He also comments on the need for free education in Catholic schools, and I wondered if Clark was aware of dioceses, like the Wichita diocese I live in, that have instituted a Stewardship program through which families don't pay tuition, but make contributions to their parish according to their income for their children to attend the parish school--it's not free, but it's fair. (We also have the St. Katherine Drexel Fund to further assist with parish and high school education.)

Throughout these chapters, Clark writes with both clarity and charity about what he sees affecting the sacrament and marriages inside and outside of the Church. He particularly focuses on the anomalous situation of couples seeking an annulment having to first obtain a civil divorce in contrast to the statements of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in paragraph 2384. He persuaded me that is a strange condition (please see pages 168-172).

But to the heart of the reason I wanted to read and review the book:

Regarding Clark's analysis of Henry VIII's marital issues and the martyrs they produced in Chapter 2, "Letting No Man Put Asunder: When Catholics Defended Marriage to the Death": the issue of the validity of Henry and Catherine of Aragon's sacramental marriage was much bound up in issues of the authority of the pope to issue a dispensation to allow Henry to marry his brother's widow. 

Henry, Thomas Cranmer, Thomas Cromwell, and others set up a conflict between Bible verses (laws regarding Levirate marriage in the Old Testament) and Papal authority. They also consulted William of Occam's arguments about the limits of Papal authority versus the monarch's authority in his own kingdom. Thus the overlap between the two issues: the validity of the marriage and papal authority.

Clark is correct to distinguish between St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More in their different public reactions and statements re: Henry's efforts. Fisher, as a bishop and successor of the Apostles, stood up against Henry's efforts in Convocation and before the king. More made his opinion, based on study of the Scriptures and the Councils of the Church, known privately to Henry VIII, but he did not speak of it publicly. Henry VIII knew it and yet appointed More his Chancellor after Cardinal Wolsey's death anyway, thus Thomas Cromwell took the lead on the matter of Henry and Catherine's marriage.

While Clark is also correct to emphasize the brave stand of the protomartyr Carthusians of the Charterhouse of London, I wish he could have found room to mention the Observant Franciscans, both the non-martyrs and martyrs, who stood up against Henry VIII's plans from beginning. Father William Peto famously preached before Henry and Anne Boleyn in the Greenwich chapel; he and Father Henry Elston were threatened with martyrdom but were not dissuaded. Blessed John Forrest was burned to dead, hung in chains above a fire kindled with the statues of saints. Henry VIII just as brutally suppressed the Observant Franciscan Order as he did the Carthusians, and there are a few Venerated martyrs of that order: Anthony Brookby, Thomas Cort, and Thomas Belchiam.

And most of all, three of Catherine of Aragon's counselors and chaplains--who might be considered The Defenders of the Bond--were hanged, drawn, and quartered after long imprisonment on July 30, 1540:
Thomas Abell, Richard Fetherston, and Edward Powell had all been chaplains and defenders of Queen Catherine of Aragon--very learned men; graduates of the University of Oxford. Thomas Abell had written Invicta veritas. An answere, That by no manner of law, it may be lawfull for the most noble King of England, King Henry the eight to be divorced from the queens grace, his lawfull and very wife. B.L. in 1532 and had also been implicated in the Nun of Kent cause célèbre. Richard Fetherston had also written against Henry's divorce of Catherine in Contra divortium Henrici et Catharinae, Liber unus although no copy of the text survives. He also tutored the Princess Mary. Henry VIII had favored Edward Powell for his works against Lutheran doctrines in earlier days, but then Powell ran afoul of Henry's changing policies and desires to cast aside Catherine of Aragon.
Along with Fisher and More and the Carthusian and Briggitine (Richard Reynolds) protomartyrs (and John Forest), they were beatified by Pope Leo XIII on December 29, 1886--on Saint Thomas of Canterbury's feast day. So I wish these brave men could have been highlighted. 

Otherwise I thought this chapter was a good overview of Henry VIII's Great Matter and what those many years meant for the Sacrament of Marriage and the Church in England and beyond.

I appreciate TAN sending me the review copy; written by a married layman and father, it is a substantial example of how the laity can respond to issues in the Church combining practical experience and knowledge of doctrine, both sacramental and moral. That reminds me, of course, of Saint John Henry Newman's description of the laity (from The Present Position of Catholics in England): 

What I desiderate in Catholics is the gift of bringing out what their religion is. I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it, who know so much of history that they can defend it. I want an intelligent, well-instructed laity I wish you to enlarge your knowledge, to cultivate your reason, to get an insight into the relation of truth to truth, to learn to view things as they are, to understand how faith and reason stand to each other, what are the bases and principles of Catholicism . . .

The book has an excellent bibliography; no index.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Preview: Two Second-Chance "Confessor" Bishops

I thought we'd continue with the theme of second chances at the Tudor Court because Father Henry Sebastian Bowden remembers two bishops who survived during the religious changes of the Tudor dynasty in his Mementoes of the English Martyrs and Confessors For Every Day in the Year on November 18 and 23: Bishop Cuthbert Tunstall and Bishop Richard Pate. Bowden includes them as "Confessors", not as canonized saints, but as Catholics who suffered under the religious changes of their age in England, sometimes after having gone along with the flow of change.

I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show at my usual time on Monday, November 20, about 6:50 a.m. Central/7:50 a.m. Eastern, the last segment in the second national hour on EWTN Radio. Please listen live here and/or catch the podcast later here.

Just a quick reminder of these religious changes during the Tudor Dynasty:

Henry VII: Catholic with strong ties to Rome through Cardinal Protectors
Henry VIII: Started out the same; ended up divided from the universal Catholic Church; proclaimed as the Supreme Head and Governor of the Church of England; various changes in liturgy and devotion; Catholicism and Lutheranism mixed; religious orders destroyed
Edward VI: Reigned as a minor; strongly Calvinist doctrine; known as "The New Josiah" (the sixteenth King of Judah who restored Temple worship in Jerusalem); some Catholic prelates (including these two) realized their errors
Mary I: restored Catholic worship and doctrine; reconciled England to Rome
Elizabeth I: Re-established Royal control over the Church; compromise Thirty-Nine Articles; outlawed the Catholic Mass, etc

With the title "Lifelong Repentance", and a verse from Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 35:5 ("To depart from iniquity pleaseth the Lord, and to depart from injustice is an entreaty for sin.") Father Bowden sketches out Bishop Tunstall's career:

Erasmus described him as a man of most exquisite judgment both in Greek and Latin literature, but at the same time of incredible modesty and of sweet and joyful manner. [Saint]Thomas More, who had been educated with him, declared that "the world scarce contained any one of greater learning, prudence, or goodness." Yet he failed where More stood firm, and under Henry VIII took the oath of Supremacy, and defended himself to Pole on the ground that the Pope’s supremacy was not so certain a matter as to die for. [Reginald] Pole replied, "Your friends Fisher and More were of not so vile a mind as not to know why they died. God send you a livelier spirit in His honour."** He atoned, however, for his weakness under Edward VI by his opposition to the new Protestantism, and was sent to the Tower. Restored to his See of Durham under Mary, and strengthened and pardoned by the blessing of Christ's vicar, he ardently repaired the havoc caused by schism in his diocese. Summoned by Elizabeth to take the oath, he refused, and on his arrival in London, after a week’s journey, was deposed, and died imprisoned under Clark [sic: should be Matthew Parker, Elizabeth I's first Archbishop of Canterbury] at the age of eighty-five, November 18, 1559.

**Father Bowden is probably referencing an exchange of letters between Pole and Tunstall after Pole had written his public letter "On the Unity of the Church" to Henry VIII, deploring his actions--including the executions of More, Fisher, and the Carthusians--which the Lambeth Palace Library has in its collection (Tunstall, Cuthbert, A letter written by Cuthbert Tunstall, late bishop of Duresme, and John Stokesley, sometime byshop of London, sente unto Reginalde Pole ... (London, 1560). STC 24321 [A polemical letter against Pole by two of Henry VIII’s advisers.] (ZZ)1553.02.03)

So Tunstall, like almost everyone else, went along with Henry VIII's marital and ecclesiastical plans, then began to see their results during the reign of Edward VI and was fortified enough with the restoration of Catholicism during the brief reign of Mary I, to refuse to cooperate with Elizabeth I and her Parliament's legislation establishing the Church of England with its Thirty-Nine Articles, etc. Thus he died in Lambeth Palace under house arrest.

Father Bowden gives Bishop Pate's memento the title "Wasted Away" with verses 3 and 5 from Psalm 31: "Because I was silent my bones grew old, whilst I cried out all the day long . . . I have acknowledged my sin to Thee." He also took the required oaths during the reign of Henry VIII, but while at the Court of Charles V in Spain, seemed to advocate for the Princess (then called Lady) Mary's legitimacy, so that's why, as Father Bowden mentions, Henry VIII mistrusted him:

He was the nephew of Longland, the Courtier Bishop of Lincoln, confessor to Henry VIII, and was made by him Canon and Archdeacon of his Cathedral, even before taking his degree at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Through his uncle’s influence he was sent as Ambassador to Charles V in Spain. Recalled to England in 1537, he accepted the Royal Supremacy, and in 1540 returned as Ambassador to Charles. Though his desire to please the King led him into schism, Henry secretly mistrusted him, and recalled him to England. Pate fled to Rome, and was attaindered. In Rome he was fully reconciled to the Church, and nominated to the See of Worcester by Paul III in 1541, and assisted as one of two English bishops at the Council of Trent. On Mary’s accession he returned to England, and took possession of his See. Under Elizabeth he voted in the first Parliament against every anti-Catholic measure, and made reparation for his previous fall by refusing to take the oath. He was imprisoned in the Tower, and then for a year and a half placed under the custody of Jewel, September 1563, at Salisbury, and finally recommitted to the Tower, where he died of his sufferings after six years’ confinement, November 23, 1565.

When I read these biographies of those who lived through all the religious changes in the Tudor dynasty, I'm reminded of the title of an EWTN program hosted by Ralph Martin, The Choices We Face.

They faced tremendous and fateful choices (King or Church; safety or martyrdom?), made their choice, and then had to live with it. These two men made their choice, realized their error, repented, and made the better choice, to return to the Church and the Catholic Faith.

May they rest in the peace of Christ.

Friday, November 10, 2023

Preview: Two Second-Chance Benedictine Martyrs

On Monday, November 13, we'll continue our series on highlights from Father Henry Sebastian Bowden's Mementoes of the English Martyrs and Confessors For Every Day in the Year looking at two Benedictine Abbots of major English monasteries. One thing Blessed Hugh Faringdon, OSB and Blessed Richard Whiting, OSB have in common is that that took Henry VIII's Oaths of Succession and Supremacy; the other thing they have in common is that they seem to have regretted it. They, with companions, suffered being hanged, drawn, and quartered on November 15, 1539 in sight of their respective abbeys.

Perhaps we should be inspired by their stories to see any dangers to the Faith as soon as possible, and act against them!

I'll be on at my usual time, about 6:50 a.m. Central/7:50 a.m. Eastern, the last segment in the second national hour on EWTN Radio. Please listen live here and/or catch the podcast later here.

For Blessed Hugh Faringdon, Father Bowden offers the title "Guardian of the Sanctuary", noting that as Abbot of Reading he was favorite of Henry VIII, who called him "his own abbot". He was "learned and pious", and enforced "strict discipline in his Abbey." Bowden says, however that Faringdon "compromised himself by supporting the King in his petition for the divorce" and the doctrine of Royal religious supremacy. Faringdon supplied Henry with books supporting his argument that his marriage to Catherine of Aragon was invalid in spite of a papal dispensation.

When the time came for the surrender of Reading Abbey, founded by King Henry I in 1121 for the monks to pray for his salvation, that of his ancestors and successors, Faringdon seemed willing to surrender it, although no signed documentation survives.

As British History Online documents:

Apparently some kind of justification for the charge of high treason against Abbot Hugh was devised or forthcoming, but it is impossible now to find out what it was. The abbot was hurried off to the Tower, probably early in the summer, and whilst there Cromwell coolly decided, as we have seen, that he was to be tried and executed at Reading.

So the Abbot was executed--hanged, drawn, and quartered--in front of the Abbey Gates. Father Bowden comments that "On the scaffold, he spoke out boldly, professed his fidelity to the Holy See, which he declared to be the common Faith of those who had the best right to define the true teaching of the English Church." The Pope, not King Henry VIII.

The scripture verse is from Lamentations: "Our heart is sorrowful . . . for Mount Sion, because it is destroyed . . . But Thou, O Lord, wilt remain forever" (5:17-19) Because Reading Abbey was of course left to decay and ruin, and the grave of King Henry I--founder of the Abbey--lost.

The martyrdom of Blessed Richard Whiting follows a similar pattern: he was the 61st and "last abbot of Glastonbury, the most ancient and famous of the great English Benedictine houses. In rank, he stood next to the Abbot of St. Albans" and he was a member of Parliament in the House of Lords. There were one hundred monks in the great abbey, and under his leadership, it was "a religious house of strict observance" and a house of education. Whiting administered the vast land holdings of the abbey for "the relief of the poor and works of charity"--there was no scandal or abuse at Glastonbury.

But there had to be if Henry VIII was to get his hands on that vast wealth for his purposes. But there wasn't any . . . so Abbot Whiting's taking of the Oath of Supremacy didn't matter once he opposed the suppression of Glastonbury Abbey; that was Treason enough. So he was Attainted for Treason in Parliament, denied--like Abbot Faringdon--the trial of his peers in Parliament he was entitled to. He was tried in Wells and taken back to Glastonbury, dragged up the High Tor nearby, and drawn and quartered in sight of that glorious abbey.

Bowden titles his memento "The Watchman on the Hills' with the verse from Isaiah 62:6: "Upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen all the day and all the night: they shall never hold their peace."

Although these two Guardians and Watchmen may have failed at first to see the danger Henry VIII's marital issues and power grab posed to the Catholic faith and to their abbeys and their way of life, they did recognize the danger at last and died martyrs in resistance. They were beatified by Pope Leo XIII on May 13, 1895 in a group of nine martyrs, seven of whom suffered toward the end of the Dissolution of the Monasteries (including John Beche, last abbot of Colchester, John Eynon, Roger James, John Rugg, John Thorne, and these two Abbots).

Blessed Hugh Faringdon, pray for us!
Blessed Richard Whiting, pray for us!

Image credit (Public Domain): Reading Abbey. The south doorway of the Abbey Church, looking along the east walk of the Cloister. Photograph by H. W. Taunt and Company, No. 9014. 1890-1899.
Image credit (Public Domain): View of Arches at Glastonbury, albumen print, by the British photographer Francis Frith. 16.7 cm x 21.1 cm (6 9/16 in. x 8 5/16 in.) Courtesy of the Yale University Art Gallery, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.

Friday, November 3, 2023

Preview: A Martyr (St. Edmund Gennings) and His Brother (A Confessor)

On Monday, November 6, we'll continue our journey through Father Henry Sebastian Bowden's Mementoes of the English Martyrs and Confessors For Every Day in the Year with a stop on the way of one of the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales, Saint Edmund Gennings (or Genings) and his confessor brother, John Gennings. I'll be on at my usual time, about 6:50 a.m. Central/7:50 a.m. Eastern, the last segment in the second national hour on EWTN Radio. Please listen live here and/or catch the podcast later here.

Father Bowden has eight (8) entries for the martyr brother and two (one shared) for the confessor brother. I chose the November 7 entry for the martyr, "God Ways Not Ours" ["My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor My ways your ways, saith the Lord." Isaiah 55:8] on page 354 which describes Saint Edmund's conversion, study for the priesthood, and return to England:

Page in the family of Mr. Sherwood, a Catholic gentleman, he was converted, ordained priest at Rheims, and when only 23 years old, landed in England. His first desire was to convert his family in Lichfield, but finding that they were all dead except a brother, who had gone to London, thither he went himself.

He didn't find his brother during his search, but one day, he felt a "strange feeling" about a young man, twice, and recognized his brother John. As Father Bowden, he asked about himself, and John replied:

that he had gone to the pope, was become a traitor to God and his country, and if he returned would certainly be hung. Finding him [his brother] hopelessly bigoted, [Edmund] left him, promising on his return to confide to him an important matter.

The important matter? 

John was converted by Edmund's martyrdom, and, as a Franciscan friar, renewed the life of his order in England.

On page 14, Father Bowden describes "The Prodigal's Return"  (on January 6) as John Genings has heard of his brother's horrific execution* on December 10, 1591. At first, John is relieved  

since he deemed it an escape from all Edmund's arguments and persuasions in favour of the Catholic religion, being himself strongly against the faith. But about ten days after his brother's execution, having spent all that day in sport and jollity, being weary with play, he returned home. There his heart felt heavy, and he began to weigh how idly he had passed the day. His brother's death came before him, and how he had abandoned all worldly pleasures, and for the sake of religion alone endured intolerable torments. Then the contrast of their two lives —the one mortified, fearing sin, the other spent in self-indulgence and in every kind of vice. Struck with remorse, he wept bitterly and besought God to show him the truth. In an instant joy filled his heart with a tender reverence for the Blessed Virgin and the Saints, of whom he had scarcely heard. He longed now to be of his brother's faith, and gloried in his eternal happiness. He left England secretly, was made priest at Douay, became a Franciscan, and the first Provincial of the renewed English Province.

Of course, the scripture verse is: " I will arise and go to my Father, and say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee." (Luke 15:18)

*Saint Edmund Genning's execution was indeed brutal. Richard Topcliffe, Queen Elizabeth I's infamous pursuivant and torturer, was there and wanted to make sure that Genings suffered the full agony of being hanged, drawn, and quartered:

Topcliffe, the notorious priest-hunter, was enraged with the attitude of St Edmund Gennings. He then ordered that Edmund be hanged and immediately cut down. When the hangman began his butchery, St Edmund was still alive when his heart was ripped from his chest. With his last breath he cried out, "Saint Gregory: Pray for me." The hangman swore, "Zounds! See, his heart is in my hand, and yet Gregory is in his mouth. O egregious Papist!".

If Father John Gennings heard those details, he would indeed have been moved.

Saint Edmund Gennings, pray for us!

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Book Review: "Three Cardinals" by E.E. Reynolds

Last month Cluny Media announced a sale on books about Saint John Henry Newman on his feast day, October 9; of course, I already had editions of most of the titles they offered, but I did find two books to buy. I bought one for myself and one for a friend! I can only tell you about the one I bought myself today however, since the other one is a gift and thus a secret.

The one I bought for myself: Three Cardinals: Newman--Wiseman--Manning by E.E. Reynolds, originally published on January 1, 1958.

Cluny's blurb:

John Henry Newman. Nicholas Patrick Wiseman. Henry Edward Manning. These three men, Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church, were the leading players in the development of the Church in England during the second half of the nineteenth century. Absent their distinctive and powerful contributions, the English Catholic Church would have been sorely impoverished, its growth stunted, its character encumbered by undue Anglican attachments. Comparing the personalities, achievements, and relationships of his subjects, E. E. Reynolds examines the efforts of Wiseman, first Cardinal Archbishop of England, to establish the Church as an integral part of the national life; the selfless work of Manning to channel the social doctrine of the Church into the educational and economic spheres; and the crowning achievements of Newman to revive, inspire, and sustain the Catholic faith in the hearts of the English people.

Yet there are different kinds of gifts, though it is the same Spirit who gives them, just as there are different kinds of service, though it is the same Lord we serve. (1 Corinthians 12:4, 5)

Praised at its publication in 1958 as an “excellent and readable account” of three outstanding princes of the modern Church,
Three Cardinals: Newman, Wiseman, Manning endures as a twofold success in scholarship and literary sympathy.

And the author bio:

Ernest Edwin Reynolds (1894–1981) was an English–Welsh Catholic author and historian. Specializing in the Tudor period and the Protestant Reformation, he wrote over a dozen books, notable among which are his numerous works on Saint Thomas More, his biography of Saint John Fisher, and his Three Cardinals, a study of John Henry Newman, Nicholas Wiseman, and Henry Edward Manning.

Cluny also publishes Reynolds's works on Fisher and More, including a biography of Margaret More Roper. And Reynolds also wrote a survey, The Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales: a short history, which you may find reviewed here.

Of course, I know a great deal about the lives of these three men, especially Newman's. I bought the book to explore Reynolds's insights into their characters and their relationships, and I appreciated his intertwining of their lives and their contacts. You may see the table of contents on the publisher's website here

Reynolds confirmed my views of Saint John Henry Newman; gave me more insight into Nicholas Wiseman's life and career, especially his success, after that disastrous first pastoral upon the Restoration of the Hierarchy in 1850, in making English men and women used to seeing a Catholic Cardinal Archbishop on the lecture circuit. Reynolds astutely analyses the great difficulties Wiseman faced in the many projects and programs of re-creating the infrastructure of the Catholic Church in England after centuries of destruction and persecution.

Reynolds definitely and sadly reinforced my dislike of Henry Manning, whose intransigence and lack of intellectual fortitude fostered his dislike, disagreement, and even condemnation of Newman once Manning was in power. He feared Newman and his influence, often blocking his way. Manning even enumerated to another person the heresies that he accused Newman of holding--yet he did nothing to confront Newman personally to urge him to greater orthodoxy which would be his duty--and Reynolds thoroughly recounts Manning's duplicity when Pope Leo XIII wanted to name Newman a Cardinal. 

When Reynolds describes Bishop Ullathorne confronting Manning about these events, sparks nearly fly off the page (243). And when he recounts Manning's homily at Newman's funeral, he is perplexed by the effusion of love and veneration: "Such an expression must raise once again the problem of Manning's view of friendship. One can only shake one's head and pass on." (p. 254)

In the preface to his book, Reynolds makes an interesting comment about sources and footnotes: there aren't going to be many in the text. He explains that he's only using published sources and most readers will know what they are (like Newman's Apologia pro Vita Sua). He further states that he's read so many books and articles that he really can't remember which one inspired which idea or impression!

And I'll have to share this comment Reynolds makes when he discusses the relative lack of staying power of most of Cardinal Manning's works (which he certainly can't and doesn't say of Newman's!) with our local Chesterton group:
[Manning's] pen was used most effectively for immediate purposes; it is the fate of much writing of this kind, once it has served its generation, to lose it appeal when the particular need has passed. We can see this happening with the more controversial writings of an author of the literary quality of G.K. Chesterton; they are losing their point because the grounds of dispute have changed, but this is not to underestimate their worth when they were written." (p. 124)
I think our group would disagree entirely with this point of view. Many of Chesterton's controversial works about the family, contraception, education, social reform, etc., discuss problems we are still facing today in society and culture. Perhaps in 1958, Reynolds was wrong about the changing grounds of dispute.

Nevertheless, I found this an enjoyable and insightful book to read. Highly recommended for those who do have some knowledge of this history and these men--and might be able to recognize the sources Reynolds uses. There is a dated bibliography at the back of the book. No index and no illustrations.

Happy All Saints Day!

Saint John Henry Newman, pray for us!

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Cover Story: Queen Catherine of Aragon at Blackfriars

Two new books feature cover illustrations of Queen Catherine of Aragon before Henry VIII on June 21, 1529 at the ecclesiastical trial held at Blackfriars to determine the validity of their marriage: Criminal-Inquisitorial Trials in English Church Courts: From the Middle Ages to the Reformation by Henry Ansgar Kelly from CUA Press and Betrayed Without a Kiss: Defending Marriage after Years of Failed Leadership in the Church by James Clark from TAN Books.

It's a dramatic scene of course--one that Shakespeare could not resist--as the queen ignored the Papal Legate and Cardinal Wolsey and spoke directly to her husband. Her speech is equally compelling. Here's another image (since I'm not completely sure of the copyright status of the other two illustrations, I won't post them) by Henry Nelson O'Neil, which is in the Public Domain:

The blurb for the CUA Press book by Henry Ansgar Kelly mentions this crucial event in the lives of Henry and Catherine:

After inquisitorial procedure was introduced at the Fourth Lateran Council in Rome in 1215 (the same year as England’s first Magna Carta), virtually all court trials initiated by bishops and their subordinates were inquisitions. That meant that accusers were no longer needed. Rather, the judges themselves leveled charges against persons when they were publicly suspected of specific offenses—like fornication, or witchcraft, or simony. Secret crimes were off limits, including sins of thought (like holding a heretical belief). Defendants were allowed full defenses if they denied charges. These canonical rules were systematically violated by heresy inquisitors in France and elsewhere, especially by forcing self-incrimination. But in England, due process was generally honored and the rights of defendants preserved, though with notable exceptions.

In this book, Henry Ansgar Kelly, a noted forensic historian, describes the reception and application of inquisition in England from the thirteenth century onwards and analyzes all levels of trial proceedings, both minor and major, from accusations of sexual offenses and cheating on tithes to matters of religious dissent. He covers the trials of the Knights Templar early in the fourteenth century and the prosecutions of followers of John Wyclif at the end of the century. He details how the alleged crimes of "criminous clerics" were handled, and demonstrates that the judicial actions concerning Henry VIII’s marriages were inquisitions in which the king himself and his queens were defendants. Trials of Alice Kyteler, Margery Kempe, Eleanor Cobham, and Anne Askew are explained, as are the unjust trials condemning Bishop Reginald Pecock of error and heresy (1457-59) and Richard Hunne for defending English Bibles (1514). He deals with the trials of Lutheran dissidents at the time of Thomas More’s chancellorship, and trials of bishops under Edward VI and Queen Mary, including those against Stephen Gardiner and Thomas Cranmer. Under Queen Elizabeth, Kelly shows, there was a return to the letter of papal canon law (which was not true of the papal curia). In his conclusion he responds to the strictures of Sir John Baker against inquisitorial procedure, and argues that it compares favorably to the common-law trial by jury.

The preview from TAN for Clark's book demonstrates that he does address The King's Great Matter and Saint John Fisher's role in it: Chapter Three: "Searching for John Fisher: The Counter-Revolution to Protestantism from the Council of Trent to Humanae Vitae". [Get it: "Searching for Bobby Fischer"?]

It's still interesting that two publishers chose illustrations of this event on these books on rather different topics.

Saint John Fisher, pray for us!

Friday, October 27, 2023

Preview: Blessed John Slade and "The Voice of the People"

We'll return to our weekly discussion of an English martyr on the Son Rise Morning Show on Monday, October 30. I'll be on at my usual time, about 6:50 a.m. Central/7:50 a.m. Eastern, the last segment in the second national hour on EWTN Radio. Please listen live here and/or catch the podcast later here.

Monday's martyr from Father Henry Sebastian Bowden's Mementoes of the English Martyrs and Confessors For Every Day in the Year was hanged, drawn, and quartered on October 30, 1583. Blessed John Slade, a layman, had been founded guilty of denying Queen Elizabeth's spiritual authority over the Church in England and thus had committed High Treason.

John Slade was born in Dorsetshire and left England after being expelled from New College in Oxford for his recusancy/Catholicism to study Civil and Canon Law at the English College at Douai. As Bishop Richard Challoner describes his return to England, where he worked as a schoolmaster, he was "so zealous in maintaining the old religion" that he was "apprehended on that account."

When he and John Bodey, another Canon and Civil lawyer trained at Douai, were tried for their zealous Catholicism, the main charge against them was that they would not recognize Queen Elizabeth as the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, with spiritual authority. Thus they were violating the Act of Supremacy of 1558. They were imprisoned together at Winchester, tried and convicted together, but were not executed together. Blessed John Bodey suffered the execution of a traitor on November 2, 1583. Both Slade and Bodey were beatified by Pope Pius XI on December 15, 1929, among a large group of priests and laity (136).

As John Hungerford Pollen, who gathered the information about the English martyrs beatified in 1929 by Pope Pius XI, recounts, when John Slade was drawn to the gallows in Winchester on October 30. 1583, he was questioned again about Papal Supremacy and why he denied the religious supremacy of Elizabeth I.

He replied "the Supremacy hath and doth belong to the Pope by right from Peter, and the Pope hath received it as by divine providence. Therefore, we must not give those things belonging to God to any other than him alone. And because I will not do otherwise, I may say with the three children in the fiery oven, and the first of the widow's seven sons in the Maccabees: "Paraii sumus mori magis quam pairias Dei leges pravaricari." [we are ready to die rather than to transgress the laws of God, received from our fathers." 2 Macc 7:2]

Asked about Pope Pius V's excommunication of Elizabeth I, Slade replied with similar boldness:

"Sir," answered Slade, " you are very busy in words: if the Pope hath done so, I think he hath done no more than he may, and than he ought to do. I will acknowledge no other head of the Church, but only the Pope: and her Majesty hath no authority in temporal causes likewise, but only what he shall think good to allow her." At these words the people cried, "Away with the traitor. Hang him. Hang him."

Father Bowden quotes these replies in his entry for Blessed John Slade, citing the verse from the Gospel according to St. Luke: "But they cried again, saying: Crucify him, crucify him." (23:21) as the "Voice of the People" who urged his bloody execution.

It's rather unusual for a layman to be convicted of High Treason for his religion, but after Pope Pius V had excommunicated Elizabeth I and declared that Catholics were not bound to be loyal to her religious or temporal supremacy--and in the midst of the investigation of the Throckmorton Plot to rescue Mary, Queen of Scots and place her on the throne of England--this was an essential issue for Elizabethan authorities. 

We may also be astonished that Blessed John Slade invoked the pope granting permission to Elizabeth I to rule England as Queen in the temporal sense, but the combination of temporal and religious authority in the monarch created the tension of loyalties for her Catholic subjects. I wonder how many in the Church of England--until the Tractarian Movement of the 1830's in Oxford--ever thought that perhaps the Archbishop of Canterbury, the most senior Church of England cleric, should have the spiritual authority, and that the Church of England should not be an Erastian church with the monarch having such control over worship, doctrine, and other ecclesiastical matters. (Note that of Henry VIII's heirs, only Mary I did not claim that authority, leaving it to the Pope and his representative in England, the Cardinal Archbishop of Canterbury, Reginald Pole.) 

Not many, or at least not many would speak such thoughts out loud. T'would be Treason!

Blessed John Slade, pray for us!

Friday, October 20, 2023

Preview: The Canonization of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales

We'll take another detour Monday morning, October 23, in our Son Rise Morning Show series on Father Henry Sebastian Bowden's Mementoes of the English Martyrs and Confessors For Every Day in the Year. This time, Matt Swaim or Anna Mitchell and I will remember the canonization of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales by Pope St. Paul VI on October 25, 1970, 53 years ago.

So I'll be on the air about 6:50 a.m. Central/7:50 a.m. Eastern, the last segment in the second national hour on EWTN Radio. Please listen live here and/or catch the podcast later here.

I did consult the index prepared by Sophia Institute Press for Father Bowden's book and discovered that he does not include six of the Forty Martyrs in his daily reflections: Saints Thomas Garnet, SJ; Richard Gwyn; John Jones, OSF; David Lewis, SJ; Nicholas Owen, SJ; Polydore Plasden. Why didn't Father Bowden include them? I don't know. We should remember that he was writing in the early Twentieth century to English Catholics, trying to inspire them spiritually and morally to be as true to their Faith in Christ and His Church as these English martyrs and confessors had been. He wasn't writing a comprehensive history/biography of the martyrs and confessors.

In 1910 when this book was published, 20 of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales had only been declared Venerable, and one of those canonized in 1970, John Lloyd, is only mentioned in the memento of Saint Philip Evans, SJ (then Venerable) on July 22, page 237. Please note that Evans and Lloyd were executed together on July 22, 1679 in Pwllhalog, near Cardiff in Wales at a site known as the "Death Junction", in the throes of the so-called "Popish Plot" and they are two of the six Martyrs of "and Wales" in the title.

We must remember that the Causes of the English and Welsh Catholic martyrs of the Reformation and Recusant eras did not start until after the Restoration of the Hierarchy in 1850. After that process Pope Leo XIII beatified 54 in 1886 and nine more in 1895. Pope Pius XI beatified 136 more in 1929 and canonized Fisher and More on May 19, 1935. Then, after World War II, the Cause began again and these 40 were canonized. Pope St. John Paul II beatified 85 more in 1987.

There are many, many resources on-line (not to mention my blog!) and in print describing the processes of beatification and canonization of the English and Welsh martyrs. Here's one about the Forty Martyrs focused on Lancashire. Here's another from the Archdiocese of Southwark.

But for Monday's discussion, I'd like to focus on Pope Paul VI's comments about the martyrs he declared saints on October 25, 1970. The Vatican website does not translate all of his homily into English, just the introductory and closing sections; a Jesuit website (ten of those canonized that day were Jesuits) provides another portion.

In the English sections of his homily, Pope Paul VI welcomed not only the English Catholic hierarchy in attendance at the Mass but the Anglican dignitaries present--assuring the latter that the canonization of these martyrs was not meant to be a point of division between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, which had just begun ecumenical talks:

We extend Our greeting first of all to Our venerable brother Cardinal John Carmel Heenan, Archbishop of Westminster, who is present here today. Together with him We greet Our brother bishops of England and Wales and of all the other countries, those who have come here for this great ceremony. . . . Thanks to them we are celebrating Christ’s glory made manifest in the holy Martyrs, whom We have just canonized, with such keen and brotherly feelings that We are able to experience in a very special spiritual way the mystery of the oneness and love of the Church. We offer you our greetings, brothers, sons and daughters; We thank you and We bless you.

While We are particularly pleased to note the presence of the official representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Reverend Doctor Harry Smythe, We also extend Our respectful and affectionate greeting to all the members of the Anglican Church who have likewise come to take part in this ceremony. We indeed feel very close to them. We would like them to read in Our heart the humility, the gratitude and the hope with which We welcome them.

And he closed his comments with words of hope about the day when "the unity of the faith and of Christian life is restored""Perhaps We shall have to go on, waiting and watching in prayer, in order to deserve that blessed day. But already We are strengthened in this hope by the heavenly friendship of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales who are canonized today. Amen."

Obviously we are still waiting and watching for that day, for various reasons.

About the martyrs themselves, he offered this praise:

. . . it is perfectly clear that they are worthy to stand alongside the greatest martyrs of the past; and this is not merely because of their fearless faith and marvellous constancy, but by reason of their humility, simplicity and serenity, and above all the spiritual joy and that wonderously radiant love with which they accepted their condemnation and death

The high tragedy in the lives of these martyrs was that their honest and genuine loyalty came into conflict with their fidelity to God and the dictates of their conscience illumined by the Catholic faith

Faced with the choice of remaining steadfast in their faith and of dying for it, or of saving their lives by denying that faith, without a moment’s hesitation and with a truly supernatural strength they stood for God and joyfully confronted martyrdom. 

The 40 Martyrs of England and Wales canonized 53 years ago are: Alban Roe, Alexander Bryant, Ambrose Barlow, Anne Line, Augustine Webster, Cuthbert Mayne, David Lewis, Edmund Arrowsmith, Edmund Campion, Edmund Gennings, Henry Morse, Henry Walpole, John Almond, John Boste, John Houghton, John Jones, John Kemble, John Lloyd, John Payne, John Plessington, John Rigby, John Roberts, John Stone, John Southworth, John Wall, Luke Kirby, Margaret Clitherow, Margaret Ward, Nicholas Owen, Philip Evans, Philip Howard, Polydore Plasden, Ralph Sherwin, Richard Gwyn, Richard Reynolds, Robert Lawrence, Robert Southwell, Swithun Wells, and Thomas Garnet.

In England, their feast is celebrated on May 4, the date of the first martyrs at Tyburn. In Wales, their feast is celebrated on October 25, highlighting the Six Welsh Martyrs.

Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, pray for us!

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Praising the Servant of God Pope Pius VII: Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis

While I was listening to the Son Rise Morning Show Monday morning before I was to go on the air, I heard Anna Mitchell and Matt Swaim mention a letter Pope Francis had written about Servant of God Pope Pius VII. It was issued on September 21 to commemorate the two-hundredth anniversary of Pope Pius's death on August 20, 1823 to Bishop Douglas Regattieri of Cesena-Sarsina (Barnaba Niccolò Maria Luigi Chiaramonti was born in Cesena on August 14, 1742):

The significant occasion of the bicentenary of the death of the Servant of God Pope Pius VII is for me a happy occasion to address a cordial greeting to you, dear Brother, and to the entire civil and ecclesial Community of Cesena and Sarsina, which remembers with gratitude an illustrious son, a courageous pastor, a caring defender of the Church. To all those who take part in the many initiatives of the "Chiaramontian year" I wish to convey my paternal closeness together with my good wishes.

In re-examining the life of this venerable Predecessor, a personality of profound faith, meekness, humanity and mercy, who distinguished himself for his competence and prudence in the face of those who impeded Libertas Ecclesiae, feelings of gratitude and admiration emerge for the spiritual legacy he left behind and the evangelical frankness with which he sustained difficult trials during the twenty-three years of his Pontificate. Despite the political and social turmoil that marked that century, he trustfully abandoned himself to God's will and accepted the humiliation of exile with exemplary docility, offering everything to the Lord for the good of the Church.

Pope Francis paid tribute to Pius VII's diplomatic efforts:

Certainly, if we consider the historic period in which Pope Pius VII lived, we cannot but note the great wisdom with which he was able to make himself an “ambassador of peace” to those who exercised temporal power. Confronted with a controversial political scenario and a specious action that threatened the salus animarum, with the calmness of one who always trusts in God’s provident intervention, he did everything in his power not to fail in his mission as “guardian and guide of the flock”, and despite the restrictions imposed on him, he continued fearlessly to proclaim the consoling force of Christ’s Gospel, in accordance with the spirit of the Beatitudes which call the children of God to be workers for peace (cf. Mt 5:9).

It's interesting to note that Pope Benedict XVI also praised Pope Pius VII during a visit to a Marian shrine in Savona, Italy in 2008:

It is a pilgrimage that is also a memory and a tribute to my Venerable Predecessor Pius VII, whose dramatic experience is indissolubly linked to this City and its Marian Shrine. Two centuries later, I come to renew the expression of gratitude of the Holy See and of the entire Church for the faith, love and courage with which your fellow citizens supported the Pope under house arrest in this City, imposed upon him by Napoleon Bonaparte. Many testimonies of the manifestations of solidarity for the Pontiff, sometimes even at personal risk, have been preserved. They are events that the people of Savona can well be proud to commemorate today. As your Bishop rightly observed, through the power of the Holy Spirit, that dark page of Europe's history has become rich in graces and teachings for our day too. It teaches us courage in facing the challenges of the world: materialism, relativism, secularism without ever yielding to compromises, ready to pay in person while remaining faithful to the Lord and his Church. The example of serene firmness set by Pope Pius VII invites us to keep our trust in God unaltered in trials, aware that although he permits the Church to experience difficult moments he never abandons us. The episode the Great Pontiff went through in your land invites us always to trust in the intercession and motherly assistance of Mary Most Holy.

In fact, it was Benedict XVI who proclaimed him a Servant of God (in 2007)!

Servant of God Pope Pius VII, pray for us!

Image Credit (Public Domain): Sir Thomas Lawrence - Portrait of Pope Pius VII