Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Chesterton on Mary, Queen of Scots and Don John of Austria


I have updated my Other Publications page to note that Gilbert!, the magazine published by the American Chesterton Society, has published the second part of my essay on G.K. Chesterton's great counter-factual exploration of how history would been different in Don John of Austria, the Hero of Lepanto, had followed through on his notion to rescue Mary, Queen of Scots and marry her!

In 1911, G.K. Chesterton published his narrative poem Lepanto. Don John of Austria, an illegitimate son of Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, leads the fleet of the Holy League of Catholic countries against the invading Ottoman fleet. . . .

Twenty years later, Chesterton returned to his great hero and wrote an article offering a fascinating proposal of marriage: the world would be different today if Don John of Austria had rescued Mary, Queen of Scots and married her. Chesterton argues that it would have been a good match for both of them. Most counterfactuals about English Reformation history—The Alteration by Kingsley Amis for example—assume that a Catholic England would be a medieval, backward country (betraying great ignorance of the Middle Ages of course). Chesterton proposes that something great could have happened in Scotland and England—in Christendom, in Europe, and the whole world— “if Don John of Austria had married Mary Queen of Scots”.

It takes some imagination to follow his argument and some knowledge of English and Scottish history to understand his examples, but it’s a rewarding exercise nonetheless. As “an earnest and plodding student of the dry scientific details of history”, (104) Chesterton uses many historical examples, and the purpose of this article is to explain some of the more obscure.

Please note that a subscription to Gilbert! is included in membership to the American Chesterton Society.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Brexit and the English Reformation


Brexit is in the news again as the government of Great Britain and the European Union try to reach an agreement about how the U.K. leaves the E.U., so once again comparisons between Brexit and the English Reformation are being posted. Like this one, which has an interesting twist on the reason for Henry VIII to break away from the Papacy and the Catholic Church. It seems to almost suggest an anti-Catholic argument amongst Brexiteers--the E.U. is as bad as the R.C.C.:

Most of the arguments in favor of Brexit assume a traditional conception of sovereignty, and are grounded in English – rather than British – history. Brexiteers look back fondly at King John’s defiance of Pope Innocent III in the thirteenth century. And they are even more smitten with the Tudor era, when Henry VIII wrested the Church of England from the yoke of papal authority. To this day, the Tudors enjoy a near-ubiquitous presence in British textbooks, media, films, and the popular imagination.

The defining moment of the Henrician Reformation came in April 1533, when the Parliament of England passed the Ecclesiastical Appeals Act, giving Henry the final word on all legal and religious questions. The point of the law was to free England from the authority of a papacy that answered to Charles I of Spain – that is, Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire. As long as Charles called the shots in Rome, Henry would not be able to divorce Charles’s aunt, Catherine of Aragon.

Contained in the Appeals Act is the first clear legislative definition of sovereignty. “This realm of England,” the law states, “is an Empire, and so hath been accepted in the world, governed by one Supreme Head and King…” But as is always the case, the measures that launched the revolution were incomplete. The laws that Parliament adopted in the 1530s did not replace Catholicism with Protestantism. But they did pave the way for religious reformers to carry the revolution into its next phase.

The use of the word divorce is so ridiculous. The Catholic Church has never issued divorces. Henry VIII was seeking a decree of nullity to say that no marriage had ever occurred. Divorce is a civil matter; nullity can be too, but in that period marriage was more a religious, sacramental state than a civil one. And the religious legislation of the 1530's went a long way to undoing traditional Catholicism in England, if not establishing a thoroughly Protestant church.

Please read the rest there

Image Credit: Henry VIII with Charles V (right) and Pope Leo X (centre), c. 1520

Friday, November 30, 2018

Preparing for Christmas with Blessed John Henry Newman


Hard on the heels of the announcement that the second miracle has been approved for the canonization of Blessed John Henry Newman, the National Catholic Register has published my review of a new book of devotions for Advent and Christmas, Waiting for Christ: Meditations for Advent and Christmas:

Believing that it is “better for Newman to be read in part than not at all,” Christopher Blum of the Augustine Institute has excerpted passages primarily from Blessed John Henry Newman’s Anglican Parochial and Plain Sermons for daily readings during the Advent and Christmas seasons, from Nov. 30 through Jan. 6. To remove any obstacles for readers concerned about Newman’s Victorian eloquence, Blum has also shortened some sentences by replacing semicolons with periods; he has also updated spelling and replaced scriptural quotations from the King James Bible with the Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.

Readers unfamiliar with Newman’s sermons will discover his spiritual depth, devotion to Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary, and firm belief in the providence of God. Catholics preparing during Advent to celebrate Christmas will benefit from his consistent concern that his flocks, Anglican and Catholic, took their faith seriously, knew and understood what they believe, and lived according to those beliefs. These same goals can provide a framework for our four-week spiritual journey to Bethlehem. In the selection for Dec. 11 from “Unreal Words,” for example, Newman exhorts us:
“Aim at seeing things as God sees them. Aim at forming judgments about persons, events, ranks, fortunes, changes, objects, such as God forms. Aim at looking at this life as God looks at it. Aim at looking at the life to come, and the world unseen, as God does. Aim at ‘seeing the King in his beauty.’ All things that we see are but shadows to us and delusions, unless we enter into what they really mean.”
The closing sentences of “Watching” (Dec. 13) combine in a powerful reminder to prepare for the coming of Christ:
“Life is short. Death is certain. The world to come is everlasting.”
Speak those words aloud — for Newman read these sermons to his congregation — and you will feel the impact.

Please read the rest there and more about the second miracle here.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Hanged, Drawn, and Quartered in York

Blessed Edward BurdenAfter studying at Oxford University’s Trinity College, Edward Burden, of County Durham, England, journeyed to the continent to prepare for the Catholic priesthood. He was ordained at Douai, France in 1584 and set out for England two years later. But after spending the following two years serving Catholics in Yorkshire, Father Burden was arrested by the Protestant Elizabethan authorities. While awaiting his fate in a York prison, he saw a fellow Catholic priest incarcerated with him, (Blessed) Robert Dalby, led away to be put on trial. Envious of the latter’s prospects of imminent martyrdom, Father Burden complained, “Shall I always lie here like a beast while my brother hastens to his reward? Truly, I am unworthy of such glory as to suffer for Christ.” But it was not long before Father Burden was himself tried and condemned to death for his priesthood. On November 29, 1588, he was executed by drawing and quartering at York.

Note: Father (Blessed) Robert Dalby was held in York Castle and not executed until after Blessed Edward Burden, on March 16, 1589, with Blessed John Amias. So Father Dalby's martyrdom was not as imminent as Father Burden thought!

Usually, the lay men and women who suffered execution for their faith during Elizabeth's reign were hanged until dead, found guilty of the felony of aiding and abetting a Jesuit or other priest, under the 1585 penal laws. These three lay martyrs, however, were sentenced to the same punishment as any other traitor, because they dared share their Catholic faith and attempt to persuade another Englishman to become a Catholic! This was not just a felony: this was treason!

On November 29, 1596, also in York, Blesseds George Errington, William Gibson, and William Knight (another layman, Blessed Henry Abbot had been condemned under the same charge, but his execution was delayed until March the following year) were hanged, drawn and quartered. They were victims of entrapment, according to Bishop Challoner:

A certain Protestant minister, for some misdemeanour put into York Castle, to reinstate himself in the favour of his superiors, insinuated himself into the good opinion of the Catholic prisoners, by pretending a deep sense of repentance, and a great desire of embracing the Catholic truth . . . So they directed him, after he was enlarged [released], to Mr. Henry Abbot, a zealous convert who lived in Holden in the same country, to procure a priest to reconcile him . . . Mr. Abbot carried him to Carlton to the house of Esquire Stapleton, but did not succeed in finding a priest. Soon after, the traitor having got enough to put them all in danger of the law, accused them to the magistrates . . . They confessed that they had explained to him the Catholic Faith, and upon this they were all found guilty and sentenced to die.

Blessed George Errington could also have been found guilty of the felony of aiding a Catholic priest (so might the others if they knew where to find a priest) because we know he was with St. John Boste at one time, who had suffered martyrdom in 1594. I presume they were in prison because of recusancy and not paying their fines.

The three who suffered on November 29, 1596 were all beatified by Pope John Paul II among the Eighty-five martyrs of England and Wales. Abbot was beatified in 1929 by Pope Pius XI. Father Burden was also included among the Eighty-Five Martyrs of England and Wales. As Pope St. John Paul II said of the priests and laity among that 85 he beatified on the 22nd of November in 1987:

The priests among them wished only to feed their people with the Bread of Life and with the Word of the Gospel. To do so meant risking their lives. But for them this price was small compared to the riches they could bring to their people in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

The twenty-two laymen in this group of martyrs shared to the full the same love of the Eucharist. They, too, repeatedly risked their lives, working together with their priests, assisting, protecting and sheltering them. Laymen and priests worked together; together they stood on the scaffold and together welcomed death. Many women, too, not included today in this group of martyrs, suffered for their faith and died in prison. They have earned our undying admiration and remembrance.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

One of the Last White Roses Decollated


Tower Hill execution site. Image credit.

Edward, the 17th Earl of Warwick, son of George, the Duke of Clarence and Isabel Neville, and brother of Margaret, later Margaret Pole, the Countess of Salisbury, was beheaded on Tower Hill, six days after Perkin Warbeck, the Pretender, was hanged at Tyburn in 1499. This blog considers the question of why (or even whether) Edward, who had been held in detention since the fall of Richard III in 1485, was a threat to the new Tudor Dynasty:

Edward was executed in 1499 because he had allegedly conspired with Perkin Warbeck to escape the Tower. It is not farfetched to believe that Henry VII set the pair up by providing them with guards who were amiable to their goals and gave them false hope. Whether they really did plot or Henry wanted everyone to believe they did, both were put to death in order to clear the way for the marriage of Prince Arthur to Katherine of Aragon.

Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, Katherine’s parents, clearly saw Edward as a threat based upon their insistence on his removal. Henry was undoubtedly reluctant to execute his wife’s cousin when she had already lost so many to the Wars of the Roses, but, in the end, he decided that the favorable match was worth the loss of one more Plantagenet son. Maybe Edward did present a greater threat than we often give him credit for.

Edward is often referred to as the son of George of Clarence, but let us not forget that his maternal ancestry is no less impressive. Isabel Neville was the daughter of the infamous Kingmaker, and the house of Neville had been powerful enough to sway the Wars of the Roses in whichever direction they chose to place themselves upon. Should Edward have determined to make a claim for himself, he had deep roots of family ties to call upon that Tudor would have been challenged to compete with.


After his decollation, Henry VII paid to have his body interred in the church at Bisham Priory/Abbey, a house of Augustinian Canons (and briefly Benedictine monks), in Berkshire, where many Nevilles and Montagus were buried. Margaret Pole's second son Arthur, who died in 1532 was also buried there. The priory was founded by William Montagu, or de Montacute, the 1st Earl of Salisbury in 1337 on the grounds on his estate.

Of course, all these graves are lost, because after the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the abbey was suppressed and:

The whole of the monastic buildings of the house of Austin Canons founded by William de Montacute Earl of Salisbury in 1337 have been demolished. The abbey hall and church had been destroyed before the site and manor were granted to Sir Philip Hoby in 1553.' (fn. 7) From the surveyors' report made at the same time it would appear that the priory was entirely independent of the buildings occupied by the Templars, which were used as a mansion-house of Margaret Pole Countess of Salisbury at the time of her attainder in 1539, (fn. 8) and had probably been utilized as a residence by the Earls of Salisbury soon after the suppression of the order. (fn. 9) The buildings at the east end of the hall, which consist of the council chamber with the cellars and cloisters under, were erected in the 14th century, and form one side of a fair-sized quadrangle, the other three sides of which were demolished by the Hobys at the time of their alterations and rebuilding, though they had apparently always been parts of a private residence. (fn. 10)

The tombs of the earls who were buried at Bisham (including that of Warwick the Kingmaker) are said to have been removed to the present hall when the abbey church was destroyed. There is, however, no evidence of this in the existing building or any record of their having been removed. In the latter part of the 15th century the screens with the gallery above were erected at the west end of the hall, and about the same time a floor was inserted in the solar and a passage made along its east side against the west wall of the hall.


The suppression of the Augustinian priory in 1537, however, was followed by the brief establishment of a Benedictine house on Henry VIII's orders, after Thomas Cromwell had first made his own arrangements for the management of the house:

Cromwell, in his scheming for his friends and tools, desired to secure the appointment of prior of Bisham for William Barlow, who was at that time prior of Haverfordwest. He ordered the then prior to resign, and sent his instructions to Thomas Benet, LL.D., vicar-general of Sarum, to repair to the priory for the election, doubtless to see that his nominee was appointed. Benet, however, wrote to Cromwell on 16 April, 1535, stating that he would have executed his commands before, only the promised resignation of the incumbent had not been received; nevertheless he would proceed to Bisham on 23 April. A letter of Sir William Carew of 27 April stated that he had heard that the prior, by the persuasion of my Lady of Salisbury and other people, refused to resign, though these very people thought him very unmeet to continue, until they saw that Cromwell meant to prefer one contrary to their minds. (fn. 11)

So Margaret, the Countess of Salisbury, thought it best not to interfere in Cromwell's project--even though the priory was on her property!

Cromwell succeeded in forcing Barlow on Bisham Priory, but it is doubtful if he ever visited his new preferment, for he was speedily dispatched on an embassy to Scotland. Whilst absent in Scotland in January, 1536, Barlow was appointed bishop of St. Asaph, the first of the many sees that he held; in April he was translated to St. David's, but was allowed as a court favourite to hold the priory of Bisham in commendam.

The summary of the Valor of 1536 gives the income of this priory as £185 11s. 0½d., which would have brought it within the suppression of the lesser houses; but the full Valor for Berkshire is missing, and the abstract among the first fruits documents is obviously incorrect in some particulars. The ministers' accounts of the Augmentation Office give the total income as £327 4s. 6d.

The obsequious Barlow was ready, however, at once to comply with the desire of Henry and Cromwell, and on 5 July, 1536, he surrendered Bisham to the king. But now came about a singular state of things. Bisham alone among all the monasteries of England was selected by the fickle Henry VIII to be re-established on a much more imposing and wealthy scale, the priory being converted into an abbey.

On 6 July, 1537, John Cordrey, abbot of Chertsey, Surrey, with William the prior and thirteen monks, surrendered, on condition of being re-established as an abbey about to be founded by the king at the late priory of Bisham. On 18 December, 1537, the king granted a charter of portentous length to the new foundation of the order of St. Benedict 'out of sincere devotion to God and the Blessed Virgin His Mother.' It was to consist of an abbot and thirteen monks, and was founded by Henry to secure prayers for his good estate during life, and for the soul of Jane his late queen, also for the souls of his posterity and progenitors, and for the souls of all the faithful departed. This new abbey of the Holy Trinity was to be endowed with the house, lands, and all the appurtenances of the late priory of Bisham, and also with the lands of the late abbey of Chertsey, and of the priories of Cardigan, Beddgelert, Ankerwyke, Little Marlow, Medmenham, &c., to the annual value of £661 14s. 9d. Moreover, to give greater dignity to this new abbey, Henry granted his beloved John Cordrey licence to wear an episcopal mitre. (fn. 12)

Abbot Cordrey did not remain at Bisham long, because "the king's sorrow over the death of Jane Seymour soon evaporated, and with it seems to have gone his short-lived desire for prayers either for the living or for the dead. The abbey of Bisham lasted for exactly six months, and then John the abbot, William the prior, and the convent of monks were called upon to execute a second farcical 'surrender' of all their possessions, which they duly executed on 19 June, 1538, in favour of Richard Layton and Edward Carne, doctors of law, the king's visitors. (fn. 14)"

Margaret Pole would eventually follow her brother to the block, although she was beheaded inside the Tower precincts, on May 27, 1541. Her son Henry Pole, Baron Montagu was beheaded on Tower Hill like his uncle on January 9, 1539.

Monday, November 26, 2018

"Sarum Mass" at Hampton Court Palace's Chapel Royal


According to this Facebook post, yesterday might have been a historic day:

This Sunday 25 November, a unique and historic event is taking place at the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace - for the first time since the 16th century, the sublime music of Thomas Tallis will accompany the liturgy for which it was originally written. Tallis was a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal in the 1500s, who would have sung for the monarch at Hampton Court. His music Missa Puer natus est nobis will be played on Sunday, accompanying the Eucharist.

After the service, the Gentlemens’ new recording of Tallis Latin music for lower voices (which includes the Missa Puer natus est) will be officially launched. The disk, on the Resonus label, will be released for sale on December 3.


It's not clear to me whether this was a Catholic Mass, celebrated by a priest with faculties of the local ordinary, or a Church of England service performed according to the Sarum Use. I think it's more likely the latter. As of this posting, the Catholic Herald did not have a story about it, nor did the Roman Catholic Diocese of Arundel & Brighton have any notice of it. Perhaps more information will be forthcoming soon.

As I understand it, a "Sarum Mass" would be a pre-Tridentine Roman Rite Mass according to the Sarum Use (from the Cathedral at Salisbury).

More information about the CD release here:

The Gentlemen of HM Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace and their director Carl Jackson make their Resonus Classics debut with this album of works for lower voices by Thomas Tallis – himself a Gentleman of the Tudor Chapel Royal serving under four monarchs.

Recorded in the impressive surroundings of the Chapel Royal where the choir is resident, this first disc with The Gentlemen presents works for four and seven voices including the Missa Puer natus est nobis based on chant for Christmas Day, and the sumptuous Suscipe quaeso Domine.


You might remember that 2016 Catholic Vespers were prayed in the Chapel Royal.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

"Green Dolphin Street": Novel or Movie?


Hendrickson Publishers has re-issued a nice uniform set of several of Elizabeth Goudge's novels. One "uniform" aspect of these re-printings is that the publishers have seen fit to highlight some possibly controversial aspect of Goudge's works to warn sensitive readers. In The White Witch they warned me that I might not like how Goudge depicts Romany people; in Green Dolphin Street they warned me that I might not like how Goudge depicts the Maori people in New Zealand and that colonial attitudes may not be enlightened enough for 21st century readers! The publishers even suggest that they considered bowdlerizing Goudge's work but decided that readers can handle it after all.

I wonder what trigger warnings Hendrickson adds to their different editions of the Holy Bible!

Nevertheless, it's good to have these books in print. Green Dolphin Street or Green Dolphin Country, as it was published in the U.K., was the basis of the 1947 MGM movie with Lana Turner as Marianne, Donna Reed as Marguerite, and Richard Hart as the man in the middle of the two sisters, William Ozanne.

I've watched the movie several times--and wrote about it for The St. Austin Review (subscriber access required)--and now I've read the novel, so the most common question is: which is better, the novel or the movie?

The answer in this case is: both.

The movie is excellent as a film; it maintains the outline of the plot, condenses the action in time, and heightens some of the dramatic tension.

The novel is excellent as a work of fiction: Goudge signals early on the crucial issue of the plot (that William Ozanne gets names, including Marianne's and Marguerite's, mixed up all the time); she creates an interior life for each of her characters, and she spreads the action of these three lives, and the other people around them, over a longer period of time--about forty years. The three main characters are in their sixties when they reunite. The final resolution of the plot, for example, comes not just before Marguerite makes her final vows (as in the movie) but years after she has become the Mother Superior at the convent in their hometown (after several years in a French convent).

The movie leaves out one set of supporting characters, Samuel and Susanna, Christian missionaries to New Zealand who befriend William and Marianne Ozanne. Nat, Captain O'Hara's first mate, isn't featured in the movie either.

Although the novel's omniscient narration is divided almost equally among the three main characters, it is Marianne who faces the greatest crisis and must develop more as a person. William and Marguerite have genuinely loving and open personalities; Marianne is a controlling and manipulative person who needs to learn that she is not in control. Her attempted manipulation of people and events almost led to her daughter making a terrible marital mistake, for example. Goudge notes Marianne's progress in humility by noting that she finally accepts that she really can't make her parents' home totally her own. She accepts that some things should be left to reflect the influence of the past.

Highly recommended.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Evelyn Waugh and Blessed Miguel Pro

On the memorial of Blessed Miguel Pro the Jesuit priest executed on November 23, 1927 in Mexico, it seems appropriate to remember how Evelyn Waugh, in the introduction to the second edition of his biography of then Blessed Edmund Campion, mentioned that the "Martyrdom of Father Pro in Mexico re-enacted Campion's in faithful detail" and that the "haunted, trapped, murdered priest is our contemporary."

Waugh visited Mexico after he wrote Campion's biography and wrote a book criticizing the Mexican revolution and its effects, particularly the persecution of the Catholic Church and her priests. He spent two months in Mexico:

I went to Mexico in order to write a book about it ; in order to verify and reconsider impressions formed at a distance. To have travelled a lot, to have spent, as I had done, the first twelve years of adult life intermittently on the move, is to this extent a disadvantage that one’s mind falls into the habit of recognizing similarities rather than differences. At the age of thirty-five one needs to go to the moon, or some such place, to recapture the excitement with which one first landed at Calais. For many people Mexico has, in the past, had this lunar character. Lunar it still remains, but in no poetic sense. It is waste land, part of a dead or, at any rate, a dying planet. Politics, everywhere destructive, have here dried up the place, frozen it, cracked it and powdered it to dust. Is civilization, like a leper, beginning to rot at its extremities? In the sixteenth century human life was disordered and talent stultified by the obsession of theology; today we are plague- stricken by politics. It is a fact; distressing for us, dull for our descendants, but inescapable. This is a political book; its aim, roughly, is to examine a single problem; why it was that last summer a small and almost friendless republic jubilantly recalled its Minister from London, and, more important, why people in England thought about this event as they did; why, for instance, patriotic feeling burst into indignation whenever a freight ship — British only in name, trading in defiance of official advice — was sunk in Spanish waters, and remained indifferent when a rich and essential British industry was openly stolen in time of peace. If one could understand that problem one would come very near to understanding all the problems that vex us today, for it has at its origin the universal, deliberately fostered anarchy of public relations and private opinions that is rapidly making the world uninhabitable. 

The succeeding pages are notes on anarchy. 

Waugh was very critical of the Wilson administration's response to the persecution of Catholics under the new Mexican government and Constitution:

President Wilson was reluctant to admit the crimes of his proteges; it was only after the facts had again and again been set before him and Catholic opinion in America was becoming seriously inflamed, that he sent a protest. He asked for three things: freedom for foreigners to pursue their businesses in peace; an amnesty for political opponents; a remission of the persecution of religion. ‘Nothing will shock the civilized world more,’ he wrote, ‘than punitive and vindictive action towards priests or ministers of any Church, whether Catholic or Protestant; and the Government of the United States ventures most respectfully but most earnestly to caution the leaders of the Mexican people on this delicate and vital matter. The treatment already said to have been accorded priests has had a most unfortunate effect on opinion outside of Mexico.’ Carranza accordingly went before the Congress in December 1918 to propose a modification of the ‘Constitution of Queretaro’ in favour of the Church. But Obregon had now entered into an alliance with the CROM; the price for their support was the continued persecution of the Church. Obregon’s supporters in Congress were therefore instructed to reject the amendments. Carranza was driven out and murdered. Once again American intervention had proved disastrous.


Chapter Seven of Robbery Under Law, "The Straight Fight", offers his interpretation of anti-Catholicism in Mexico, its sources and propaganda. Of Blessed Miguel Pro, he writes, noting how President Calles had photographs of his execution published, that he was the hero of Catholics in the late 1930's:

There were hundreds of others done to death at the same time. Mexico had been infertile of religious heroes for some generations; now she suddenly burst into flower; but popular imagination always seeks to personify its ideals, and it is on Pro, very worthily, that it has fastened as the embodiment of the spirit Calles provoked. Within a few hours of his death he was already canonized in the hearts of the people; with typical ineptitude Calles had photographers on the scene of the execution and issued pictures of it to the press; within a day or two it was a criminal offence to possess one; they circulated nevertheless from hand to hand and were reproduced in secret all over the country. Today you can buy cards of Pro outside the churches and even government apologists have stopped trying to justify his death. It was a mistake, they admit; it was indeed; one of those resounding mistakes which make history. While Dwight Morrow and his clown and Calles were off on a trip together in the Presidential train talking of debt settlements, Pro was being shot in a back yard. Dwight Morrow is already forgotten. Pro is the inspiration of thousands through whom the Mexican Church is still alive.

Waugh writes about the Cristeros:

The present situation of the Church in Mexico is the result of the truce effected with the mediation of Dwight Morrow. Mexican Catholics profess small gratitude to him for his intervention. The promises then made by the government have not been kept. The Cristeros were induced to surrender their arms under an amnesty which has been broken by a series of retributive murders. The hierarchy believed that their spiritual work was to be allowed to continue without persecution; they have been bitterly disappointed. For Catholics the unhappy character of the compromise has been emphasized by the grave warning of the late Pope in the encyclical Firmissimam Constantiam of Easter 1937.

Browsing that chapter, with Waugh's description of Our Lady of Guadalupe, demonstrated to me what a thoughtful Catholic Evelyn Waugh truly was. He understands--as a convert--both the outsider and the insider view of the Catholic Church, our doctrine, worship, and devotion.

Blessed Miguel Pro, pray for us!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Tallis for Thanksgiving

My late parents--especially my mother--often lamented that Thanksgiving was passed over so quickly in the Christmas rush. When I found this CD I bought them a copy and one for us as well, since it featured music for Thanksgiving!

The CD combines works from the British Colonies, Tudor England, and the Continent in the Middle Ages. Thus there are compositions by Thomas Tallis and Peter Abelard mixed among hymns from the American shape-note tradition and psalmody. The theme of all the hymns and songs is thanks and praise of Almighty God.

The image on the cardboard cover of the CD (no jewel box) is Currier & Ives' 1867 lithograph titled "Home to Thanksgiving." Please note that it's not "Home for Thanksgiving"! It's not so much an event to be celebrated as an activity to be observed.

This Thanksgiving would have been what my brother once called an "Annigiving", because it is also our late parents' wedding anniversary.


May they rest in peace and may we all be reunited at the heavenly banquet!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

St. Thomas More's Poor Souls on the Son Rise Morning Show

Annie Mitchell asked me to talk about St. Thomas More and the Poor Souls in Purgatory tomorrow (Monday, November 19) on the Son Rise Morning Show. I'll be on at the end of their 7:00 a.m. Eastern time hour, at about 7:50 (6:50 a.m. Central time). Listen live on the Sacred Heart Radio website.

St. Thomas More is honored as a saint because he was martyred for the Faith in 1535, but he had been working to defending the Catholic faith and Church teaching for several years before he was imprisoned in 1534. He wrote dialogues, point-by-point refutations of certain publications, and other works of apologetics against errors about the Catholic faith.

The most creative of these works, in my opinion, is his 1529 work on purgatory, The Supplication of Souls.

I wrote about More's efforts to defend the Church's teaching on Purgatory and the practice of praying for the Poor Souls in Purgatory for the National Catholic Register, and that's why Annie wanted to discuss this with me tomorrow:

As the Protestant Reformation was developing on the Continent and coming to England through books and certain followers of Lutheran ideas, Thomas More saw the danger in the attacks on Purgatory. In his book “The Supplication of Souls” More was answering a pamphlet, “A Supplication for the Beggars” by Simon Fish.

Fish charged that Masses and prayers for the dead diverted alms from the poor and he urged Henry VIII to destroy the priesthood, force priests to get married and get jobs, and thus eradicate Masses for the dead, for which priests received stipends.

More knew how dangerous this suggestion was: not only would prayer for the dead, the great bond between the living and the dead, be destroyed, but also the ministerial priesthood, and the Sacrifice of the Mass. The whole economy of salvation and the communion of saints were at stake, so he answered Fish’s pamphlet as creatively and persuasively as he could. More hoped, through his apologetics, to preserve Hope in Heavenly happiness in England before it could be destroyed by false teaching.


While the commercial world is already celebrating Christmas, we Catholics are still praying for the Poor Souls in Purgatory during the month of November, dedicated to their memory and their purification.