Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Peterhouse Partbooks

I am always thrilled to find someone who has a project that means so much to them when it may seem so obscure to anyone else. Herewith, Blue Heron, a group engaged in bringing the Peterhouse Partbooks from the early 16th century age of English Cathedral music to our attention:

Peterhouse’s Henrician partbooks are the most important extant source of English church music on the eve of the Reformation. The repertory of five-part polyphony that they contain is both large and varied, consisting of seventy-two compositions in the standard forms of the day—Mass, Magnificat, votive antiphon, ritual plainchant setting, and one or two pieces whose function is debatable—and more than half of these works do not survive in other sources. The composers represented (twenty- nine, plus one anonymous) range from those widely admired both at the time and also today, such as Robert Fayrfax and John Taverner, whose careers are relatively well documented and whose music is ubiquitous in sources of the period, to the most obscure, such as Hugh Sturmy, whose careers have yet to be traced and whose music survives nowhere else. The musical quality of the collection is generally very high, and many pieces (by no means only those by well-known composers) show not only skilled craftsmanship but also marked imagination and strong character.

The cover above is for the first of five cds of music from the Peterhouse Partbooks, containing the titular Three Marian Antiphons by Hugh Aston, a Magnificat by Robert Jones and Quales sumus O miseri by John Mason. You can read the complete CD liner notes here.

Their second cd, cover (?) above contains:
Music from the Peterhouse Partbooks, Volume 2

Nicholas Ludford (c1490-1557): Missa Regnum mundi
Sarum plainchant · Proper for the Feast of Saint Margaret
Richard Pygott (c1485-1549): Salve regina

Restored by Nick Sandon

The second installment in Blue Heron’s 5-CD series of Music from the Peterhouse Partbooks features Nicholas Ludford’s radiant Missa Regnum mundi, sung in a musical context like that of its probable original occasion, a festal mass for St Margaret, with plainchant items from the Proper according to the Use of Salisbury. The disc concludes with Richard Pygott’s extraordinary Salve regina, one of the longest votive antiphons extant and a marvel of rhetorical expression.

This is the world premiere recording of all the music on the disc.

More on ordering the discs from the Blue Heron website here.

More Byrd, With a Side of Monte

Yet another disc of William Byrd sacred music? Yes, with a Spanish connection, presenting in musical form the correspondence and exchange between William Byrd and Philippe de Monte. As the liner notes from Gallicantus's third cd release describe the exchange:

The connection that brings together the music of William Byrd (c.1540-1623) and Philippe de Monte (1521-1603) is a most unusual one: a very rare documented instance of two composers from distant parts of Europe engaging in a personal musical exchange. According to an 18th-century manuscript in the British Library, de Monte had come to England in 1554 as a singer in the choir that accompanied his employer, the Spanish king Philip II, as he contracted a dynastic marriage to Mary Tudor. It seems that de Monte may have made contact with the young William Byrd, for some 30 years later he sent him the eight-part motet Super flumina Babylonis, and the following year, Byrd responded with his own eight-part Quomodo cantabimus, whose words are drawn from verses of that same psalm, no. 136. Exactly what occasioned this musical transaction is not known, but the words must have held particular resonance for Byrd at that time, as this famous psalm of captivity and exile would surely be interpreted as a barely veiled allusion to the dangerous situation that he and his fellow recusant Catholics were facing under a Protestant regime in England at a time when political tensions were aggravating the existing religious ones; perhaps word of these developments had reached de Monte, either in Prague or via his benefice at Cambrai, near the Catholic English College at Douai.

The CD is available from Signum Classics and the website highlights the key to the hidden meaning of Byrd's setting of these texts: "The texts reveal the Catholic community’s sense of isolation (“How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” – Quomodo Cantabimus) and bereavement (“Jerusalem is wasted” – Ne Irascaris), and the elaborate, poetic nature of the encoded messages distributed within it through music.'

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Henry Adams and St. Michael the Archangel

From the first chapter of Henry Adams' Mont Saint Michel and Chartres:

The Archangel loved heights. Standing on the summit of the tower
that crowned his church, wings upspread, sword uplifted, the devil
crawling beneath, and the cock, symbol of eternal vigilance, perched
on his mailed foot, Saint Michael held a place of his own in heaven
and on earth which seems, in the eleventh century, to leave hardly
room for the Virgin of the Crypt at Chartres, still less for the
Beau Christ of the thirteenth century at Amiens. The Archangel
stands for Church and State, and both militant. He is the conqueror
of Satan, the mightiest of all created spirits, the nearest to God.
His place was where the danger was greatest; therefore you find him
here. For the same reason he was, while the pagan danger lasted, the
patron saint of France. So the Normans, when they were converted to
Christianity, put themselves under his powerful protection. So he
stood for centuries on his Mount in Peril of the Sea, watching
across the tremor of the immense ocean,-immensi tremor oceani,-as
Louis XI, inspired for once to poetry, inscribed on the collar of
the Order of Saint Michael which he created. So soldiers, nobles,
and monarchs went on pilgrimage to his shrine; so the common people
followed, and still follow, like ourselves.
Seems required reading on this Feast of the Archangels!

Episode Nine of the The English Reformation Today

Today on "The English Reformation Today" on Radio Maria US, I'll cover lots of history by focusing on the religious aspects of the English Civil War, the execution of King Charles I, Interregnum period (when Parliament and Oliver Cromwell ruled), and the Popish Plot during the reign of Charles II--we'll see how far I get in the hour! The plan I submitted to Radio Maria included this summary for today's episode:

Highlight the religious conflict in England leading to the English Civil War; describe the Puritan Experiment in government, including its attack on Christmas. Describe the great religious crisis of the Popish Plot during the reign of the restored Stuart monarch, Charles II--recount the injustice of the trials of the last great wave of Catholic martyrs from 1679 to 1681. Continue the story of Maryland, describing Calvert's heirs and their efforts to inculcate religious tolerance and freedom of religion in their colony--the changing fortunes of Catholics in the Maryland colony during the the Civil War and Restoration.

As I commented, the Stuart dynasty coming to England seemed more stable--unlike Elizabeth I, with no family heir (not even a cousin left, after she got rid of Mary, Queen of Scots and her Grey cousins, Nine-Day-Jane's sister Mary and Katherine)--James I of England had two sons in case the eldest died (and he did) and Charles I had more than two prepared to succeed him. But the Stuart monarchy endured two overthrows--the English Civil War toppled Charles I from the throne and his head from his neck, while the Glorious Revolution of 1688 deposed his son James II and left his son and grandsons to be Pretenders.

Why? I don't think we can ignore how religious division and dissent contributed to this dynasty's troubles, whatever the personal or regal failings of its monarchs--the Tudor model of asserting supremacy and uniformity had left the country divided: Anglican, Puritan, and Catholic. The Catholic opposition, as we know well from the past few episodes, had been driven underground, but a consistent, muted danger to the State. The Puritan opposition remained a force above ground with influence in both Church and State, and it would prove to be the real source of danger to the Stuarts--at least to Charles I and Charles II (in the latter case, when Scotland backed his succession to his father). As I explain in this article, Stuart devotion to the Protestant cause was always suspect until after the Glorious Revolution, as the first four Stuarts seem to "flirt" with Catholicism, with Catholic wives and catholic (lower case) sympathies:

From the beginning of the Stuart dynasty in England, there seemed to be uncertainty about how loyal the kings from James I to James II were to the Church of England and to Protestantism.

At the beginning of his reign, James I wanted to hold an ecumenical council with the Pope! He also negotiated a treaty with Spain for his son and heir Charles to marry the Infanta. That treaty, like the one eventually signed when Charles married Henrietta Maria of France, sister of King Louis XIII, allowed the foreign bride to remain a Catholic, to have priests at Court as her chaplains and confessors, and to have a chapel in which to worship-and even promised leniency to Catholics. On the other hand, Parliament did not think that James I did enough to support his own son-in-law, the Elector of the Palatinate in Bohemia, when he lost the Battle of the White Mountain, defeated by Catholic forces in 1620. The Catholicism of James' wife, Queen Anne, didn't help, although they became estranged soon after he succeeded to the throne of England. She did not receive Anglican communion at their coronation ceremony, however, and that was pointed.

Charles I indeed allowed his wife that freedom and members of his Court were often concerned that his uxoriousness might lead him to become Catholic. Henrietta Maria was a devout Catholic, processing to Tyburn Tree to honor the Elizabethan and Jamesian martyrs, refurbishing her chapel in the latest baroque style, and attracting converts. The presence of the Capuchin friars and the celebration of Catholic Mass shocked and disturbed Anglican courtiers. When Parliament was not in session, Charles indeed showed leniency to Catholic priests and Henrietta Maria often pled for clemency. Parliament indicted her for treason during the Civil War and she fled the country for exile in France. The religious conflict between Puritans in Parliament and Charles I's arminian High Church Anglicanism contributed to the causes of the Civil War and the execution of the the king in 1649 after he lost.

Charles II returned to England in 1660 in the security of the re-established Church of England, the Book of Common Prayer, the Authorized Version of the Bible, and the monarchy. He married a Catholic princess, however, Catherine of Braganza, and refused to divorce her even though she bore him no sons. He treated her as well as possible considering his rampant infidelity, maintaining both Protestant and Catholic mistresses-thus the occasion when Nell Gwynn called out to the crowds jostling her carriage, "Good people, I am the Protestant whore!" If Charles's cabinet had known what he had agreed on May 26 in 1670, they would have been stunned. Although they did not know about the secret contents in the Treaty of Dover (no one did until the 19th century), they knew that Charles attempted to extend freedom from the penal laws to Catholics in his Declaration of Indulgence in 1672. He had to back away from that move when Parliament rejected his proclamation, and for a time seemed to turn more toward Protestant interests on the Continent, allying with William of Orange against the French. Imagine the surprise when they discovered that he had converted on his deathbed, encouraged by his Catholic brother. . . . (You may read the rest here)

I welcome all listeners of Radio Maria US to my blog, whether you're listening on one of their radio stations or on line or through one of their apps. I invite you to call in with questions and comments toll-free at 866-333-MARY(6279). Just a reminder, too, that podcasts of previous episodes of The English Reformation Today are available on the Radio Maria US website. Next week: The Long Eighteenth Century for Catholics from the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the Jacobite Pretenders, to the first Catholic Relief Acts!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Oaths and The English Reformation

Here's a specialized but important title: Oaths and the English Reformation from Cambridge University Press by Jonathan Michael Gray:

The practice of swearing oaths was at the centre of the English Reformation. On the one hand, oaths were the medium through which the Henrician regime implemented its ideology and secured loyalty among the people. On the other, they were the tool by which the English people embraced, resisted and manipulated royal policy. Jonathan Michael Gray argues that since the Reformation was negotiated through oaths, their precise significance and function are central to understanding it fully. Oaths and the English Reformation sheds new light on the motivation of Henry VIII, the enforcement of and resistance to reform and the extent of popular participation and negotiation in the political process. Placing oaths at the heart of the narrative, this book argues that the English Reformation was determined as much by its method of implementation and response as it was by the theology or political theory it transmitted.

You might remember how Robert Bolt's Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons is eager to know exactly the wording of Henry VIII's first oath, the Succession Oath, so he can ascertain IF he CAN swear it; thus Professor Gray of Virginia's Theology Seminary is correct that the oaths' "precise significance and function are central to understanding" them and their effects on the implementation of Henry VIII's Break from Rome. This work is based on the author's PhD thesis at Stanford University and it looks like oaths have been central to his academic work.

Table of Contents:


Notes on the text
List of abbreviations

1. The theoretical basis of swearing oaths
2. Oaths, subscriptions, and the implementation of the Parliamentary reforms of 1534
3. The origin and motivation of the Henrician professions
4. Responses to the oaths of succession and supremacy
5. Oaths and the pilgrimage of grace
6. Oaths, evangelicals, and heresy prosecution

Appendix A. The oaths of a bishop-elect to the Pope
Appendix B. The oaths of a bishop-elect to the King in restitution for their temporalities
Appendix C. The promise of the bishops to renounce the Pope and his bulls
Appendix D. The oaths of succession
Appendix E. Instructions for the visitation of the friars, their profession, and the profession of other clerical institutions in 1534
Appendix F. The professions of bishops and universities in 1535
Appendix G. Post-1535 Henrician oaths of supremacy

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Support a Catholic Speaker Month (SCSM)

Support a Catholic Speaker Month

I'm participating in the 2012 edition of Support a Catholic Speaker Month hosted by Brandon Vogt. On my C.V., I cite one of my few speaking engagements (with a full-time job, I don't get around that much:)

Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri Diocese’s Bishop Helmsing Institute Apologetics Conference Presentations: "How Catholics Survived the English Reformation" and "Church History and Apologetics", March 13, 2010

The Keynote Speaker at the Apologetics Conference was Jim Burnham of St. Joseph's Covenant Keepers :

Jim Burnham is an internationally known cradle-Catholic author and speaker. He is the second-born of ten children. Jim and his wife, Lisa, have been married 11 years and have five children.

In 1989, Jim graduated as valedictorian from Michigan's Hillsdale College with a degree in philosophy.Questions from evangelical class-mates forced Jim to rediscover the amazing biblical and historical basis for his Catholic Faith.

Shortly thereafter, Jim and his father founded San Juan Catholic Seminars, a lay organization devoted to explaining and defending the Catholic faith. At first, it only presented out-of-town speakers. Then Jim teamed up with a local priest, Father Frank Chacon, to give local seminars themselves. Since then, San Juan Catholic Seminars has grown into a full-fledged apologetics ministry, offering seminars, tapes, and the hugely popular series of Beginning Apologetics booklets.

Jim has given "practical apologetics" seminars all over the world. He is on Catholic Answers' speaking bureau. He has appeared on EWTN's "Carpenter's Shop" series, as well as many Catholic radio shows. Jim is the co-author, with Steve Wood, of Christian Fatherhood.

When I contacted Jim, he remembered meeting both me and my husband, Mark.
I reviewed my notes from his talks and would highly recommend him as a speaker. He integrated Church history into his apologetics talks very well and with his practical background in apologetics, he provides both experience in delivering and knowledge in conveying the truth.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Father Frederick Faber, RIP

From Crisis Magazine:

When Father Frederick Faber died in September 1863 after a long illness, there was an outpouring of grief for this Oxford Movement convert. The Freeman’s Journal in Dublin remarked that Faber’s death, “though so long expected, has come with a seeming suddenness…. [T]he name of Father Faber has become a household word as his beautiful hymns have been adopted by every congregation.” The funeral, which was held at the Brompton Oratory that Faber had established ten years earlier, attracted a great crowd. Many of Faber’s fellow Oratorians attended, including John Henry Newman. A number of diocesan priests came as well, including Monsignor Henry Manning, who would soon be appointed Archbishop of Westminster. Also participating were Dominican and Capuchin friars along with priests from France, Belgium and Germany. A correspondent for the Freeman’s Journal recounted the ceremony: “A procession was formed down the centre of the church, the cross being borne in front, and the clergymen walking two by two between the vast crowd which thronged the building. It was a sight calculated to cause deep feelings.”

Faber had accomplished much in the 49 years that God had allotted him. He had arrived at Oxford University in the early 1830s just as the Oxford Movement was taking shape. Like Newman, Faber was drawn to the Church Fathers and hoped that Anglicanism would accept the Early Church understanding of sacraments and liturgy as its own. Ordained an Anglican minister in 1839, Faber quickly lost confidence in the Church of England and wanted to convert to Catholicism. Newman, however, urged him to wait. By the fall of 1845, Newman, too, had despaired of Anglicanism and was received into the Catholic Church. Faber followed a month later. Newman and Faber and the dozens of other Oxford ministers who entered the Catholic Church knew they were taking a bold and radical step. Catholics in England were a small, suspect group, associated in the public imagination with “Bloody Mary,” the Spanish Armada and the Gunpowder Plot. When reporting on the conversions, some English newspapers described them as “perversions.” . . .

In recent years, however, Faber’s reputation has suffered.  Some Catholics have found him too Roman, too Marian, too exuberant in his piety.  Some Newman scholars have sided with Newman in his quarrel with Faber and have written disparagingly of Faber. . . .

Father Frederick Faber died on September 26, 1863.

There's a wideness in God's mercy
like the wideness of the sea;
there's a kindness in his justice,
which is more than liberty.
There is welcome for the sinner,
and more graces for the good;
there is mercy with the Savior;
there is healing in his blood.

There is no place where earth's sorrows
are more felt than in heaven;
there is no place where earth's failings
have such kind judgment given.
There is plentiful redemption
in the blood that has been shed;
there is joy for all the members
in the sorrows of the Head.

For the love of God is broader
than the measure of man's mind;
and the heart of the Eternal
is most wonderfully kind.
If our love were but more faithful,
we should take him at his word;
and our life would be thanksgiving
for the goodness of the Lord.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Robert Lowell on Walsingham

The American Poet Robert Lowell included two stanzas about Our Lady of Walsingham in his poem "The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket", dedicated to Warren Winslow, a cousin of Lowell, who died at sea when his ship sank. You can hear the poem read here.

There once the penitents took off their shoes
And then walked barefoot the remaining mile;
And the small trees, a stream and hedgerows file
Slowly along the munching English lane,
Like cows to the old shrine, until you lose
Track of your dragging pain.
The stream flows down under the druid tree,
Shiloah’s whirlpools gurgle and make glad
The castle of God. Sailor, you were glad
And whistled Sion by that stream. But see:

Our Lady, too small for her canopy,
Sits near the altar. There’s no comeliness
At all or charm in that expressionless
Face with its heavy eyelids. As before,
This face, for centuries a memory,
Non est species, neque decor
Expressionless, expresses God: it goes
Past castled Sion. She knows what God knows,
Not Calvary’s Cross nor crib at Bethlehem
Now, and the world shall come to Walsingham.

Ashgate Publishing, which produces great and very expensive academic studies, has this book, Walsingham in Literature and Culture from the Middle Ages to Modernity edited by Dominic Jones and Gary Fredric Waller. Ashgate's website offers this introduction to the text.

Robert Lowell (1917-1977) was a Pulitzer Prize winning poet, who converted to Catholicism but fell away from the Church in the 1940s.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Blesseds William Spenser and Robert Hardesty in 1589

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:

English martyr, b. at Ghisburn, Yorkshire; executed at York, 24 September, 1589. His maternal uncle, William Horn, who signed for the Rectory of Cornwell, Oxfordshire, in 1559, sent him in 1573 to Trinity College, Oxford, where he became Fellow in 1579 and M.A. in 1580. There, convinced of the truth of Catholicism, he used his position to influence his pupils in that direction; but he delayed his reconciliation till 1582, when, with four other Trinity men (John Appletree, B.A., already a priest; William Warford, M.A. and Fellow, afterwards a Jesuit; Anthony Shirley, M.A. and Fellow, afterwards a priest; and John Fixer, B.A., afterwards a priest), he embarked from the Isle of Wight, and landed near Cherbourg, arriving at Reims, 2 November. Received into the Church five days later, he was ordained sub-deacon and deacon at Laon by the bishop, Valentine Douglas, 7 April, 1583, and priest at Reims by the Cardinal Archbishop de Guise, 24 September, and was sent on the mission 29 August, 1584. He effected the reconciliation of his parents and his uncle (the latter was living as a Catholic priest in 1593), and afterwards voluntarily immured himself in York Castle to help the prisoners there. He was condemned under 27 Elizabeth, c. 2, merely for being a priest. With him suffered a layman, Robert Hardesty, who had given him shelter.

Blesseds Spenser and Hardesty were among the 85 Martyrs of England and Wales beatified by Blessed Pope John Paul II in 1987. A Catholic Herald article at the time highlighted the number of Catholic laymen included among the 85, noting:

These laymen died because they believed that it was the mass that mattered, because they believed in the priesthood, and because they believed in the authority of St Peter's successors, rather than in the claims of Henry VIII (sic), and Queen Elizabeth I, who personally signed and approved each of their sentences of death.

No amount of white-wash or fudging can get round the fact that the stark simple faith of these laymen, most of whom met the most barbaric of deaths, along with 63 (sic) martyr priests, helped to keep the Faith alive at a time when Henry VIII and Elizabeth I thought that they had blotted it out for ever.

September 24 on the Son Rise Morning Show

I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show this morning at 7:45 a.m. Eastern/6:45 a.m. Central to discuss the Feasts of Our Lady of Ransom and Our Lady of Walsingham.

Until the year 2000 when the Vatican approved the new calendar for the Dioceses of England and Wales, today was the Feast of Our Lady of Ransom. A guild was founded in 1887 with "three special intentions:

~~the conversion of England and Wales in general, and of individuals in particular;
~~the rescue of apostates and those in danger of apostasy;
~~the forgotten dead, who, owing to the Reformation, or to being isolated converts, or other causes, are without special Masses and prayers."

The origins of the feast and its connection to St. Raymond of Penyafort and the Mercedarian Order:

The Blessed Virgin appeared in 1218 in separate visions to St. Peter Nolasco, St. Raymond of Penafort and James, king of Aragon, asking them to found a religious order dedicated to freeing Christian captives from the barbarous Saracens or Moors, who at the time held a great part of Spain. On August 10, 1218, King James established the royal, military and religious Order of our Lady of Ransom (first known as the Order of St. Eulalia, now known as the Mercedarian Order), with the members granted the privilege of wearing his own arms on their breast. Most of the members were knights, and while the clerics recited the divine office in the commanderies, they guarded the coasts and delivered prisoners. This pious work spread everywhere and produced heroes of charity who collected alms for the ransom of Christians, and often gave themselves up in exchange for Christian prisoners. This feast, kept only by the Order, was extended to the whole Church by Innocent XII in the 17th century.

More here from the same site.
Since the year 2000, September 24 is the Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham, and last year the shrine(s) celebrated the 950th anniversary of the founding of "England's Nazareth". Today in Walsingham there are two shrines--one Catholic, one Anglican. Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's vice regent in these spiritual matters, had the first (Catholic) shrine destroyed along with other shrines to the Mother of God throughout England. The statues were brought to the Chelsea area of the London and destroyed in a bonfire. Walsingham calls itself "England's Nazareth" and promotes both the Catholic and the Anglican shrines on its tourism website.

In 1893, Pope Leo XIII promised: "When England returns to Walsingham, Our Lady will return to England." Even after Pope Leo restored the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in 1897, it took some time for [Catholic] England to return to Walsingham. In 1922, the Anglo-Catholic Father Hope Patton established the Anglican shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. In 1934, the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Bourne, led a major pilgrimage to the Catholic Walsingham and it became the National Marian Shrine.

With Pope Benedict XVI's foundation of the first Personal Ordinariate for groups of former Anglicans on January 15, 2011, named for Our Lady of Walsingham, Our Lady's return to England was even more firmly established. According to this CNA story, a recent pilgrimage there highlighted the upcoming Year of Faith:

Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury has encouraged English Catholics to prepare for the Year of Faith by embracing and proclaiming Catholicism in its entirety.

“We are invited together with Simon Peter and with his successor Benedict our Pope to profess our Catholic faith in fullness and with renewed conviction,” Bishop Davies said Aug. 26 during a pilgrimage to the Marian shrine of Walsingham in Norfolk.

Bishop Davies gave two homilies during his pilgrimage to England’s national Marian shrine. In a sermon to around 1,500 members of the Youth 2000 movement, he reminded the congregation of the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. . . .

In his later homily to the Latin Mass Society, Bishop Davies recalled how Walsingham “was once the focus of world attention” and a center of pilgrimage “renowned alongside Jerusalem and Rome,” until it was destroyed during the 16th-century English Reformation.

“These very ruins of Walsingham towards which you will walk the last ‘Holy Mile’ of this pilgrimage serve to remind us that each successive generation must make that choice for the faith again,” he said.

The homily was delivered during a Traditional High Mass which concluded a three-day, 55-mile walking pilgrimage by the Latin Mass Society. Bishop Davies recalled the words of the 19th-century Pope Leo XIII who predicted that “when England returns to Walsingham, Our Lady will return to England.”

“In this way we will pass on the flame of faith and so leave to new generations not the ruins of a Christian past but the faith which Walsingham has represented for almost a thousand years.”

O alone of all women, Mother and Virgin, Mother most happy, Virgin most pure, now we sinful as we are, come to see thee who are all pure, we salute thee, we honour thee as how we may with our humble offerings; may thy Son grant us, that imitating thy most holy manners, we also, by the grace of the Holy Ghost may deserve spiritually to conceive the Lord Jesus in our inmost soul, and once conceived never to lose him. Amen.

All Holy and ever-living God, in giving us Jesus Christ to be our Saviour and Brother, You gave us Mary, His Mother, to be our Mother also; grant us, we pray you, to live lives worthy of so great a Brother and so dear a Mother, that we may come at last to you the Father of us all, Who lives and reigns for ever. Amen.

Our Lady of Walsingham, Pray for us.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Martyr by Any Other Name (Blessed William Way and his Aliases)

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia: Today's martyr, Blessed William Way (Alias MAY, alias FLOWER), was born in Exeter Diocese (Challoner says in Cornwall, but earlier authorities say in Devonshire); hanged, bowelled, and quartered at Kingston-on-Thames, 23 September, 1588. He is frequently confused with the martyred layman Richard Flower, alias Lloyd, who suffered at Tyburn, 30 September, 1588 (as to whom see RICHARD LEIGH), with the priest William Wiggs, alias Way, M.A., a notable prisoner at Wisbech, and with William Wyggs, M.A., of New College, Oxford. Our martyr William Way received the first tonsure in the Cathedral of Reims from the Cardinal of Guise on 31 March, 1584, and was ordained subdeacon, 22 March, deacon 5 April, and priest 18 September, 1586, at Laon, probably by Bishop Valentine Douglas, O.S.B. He set out for England 9 December, 1586, and in June 1587, had been committed to the Clink. He was indicted at Newgate in September, 1588, merely for being a priest. He declined to be tried by a secular judge, whereupon the Bishop of London was sent for; but the martyr, refusing to acknowledge him as a bishop or the queen as head of the Church, was immediately condemned. He was much given to abstinence and austerity. When he was not among the first of those to be tried at the Sessions in August, he wept and, fearing he had offended God, went at once to confession, "but when he himself was sent for, he had so much joy that he seemed past himself".

CUA and One Thomas More

The Catholic University of America Press has a new book on St. Thomas More coming out next month: The One Thomas More:

"Thomas More" the humanist. "Sir Thomas More" the statesman. "Saint Thomas More" the martyr. Who was Thomas More? Which characterization of him is most true? Despite these multiple images and the problems of More's true identity, Travis Curtright uncovers a continuity of interests and, through interdisciplinary contexts, presents one Thomas More.

The One Thomas More carefully studies the central humanist and polemical texts written by More to illustrate a coherent development of thought. Focusing on three major works from More's humanist phase, The Life of Pico, The History of Richard III, and Utopia, Curtright demonstrates More's idea of humanitas and his corresponding program of moderate political reform. Curtright then shows how More's later polemical theology and defense of the ecclesiastical courts were a continuation of his commitments rather than a break from them. Finally, More's prison letters are examined. His self-presentation in these letters is compared with other recent and iconic versions, such as those in Robert Bolt's Man for All Seasons and Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall. Instead of a divided mind emerging, Curtright ably shows More's integrity and consistency of thought.


Travis Curtright, is a fellow of the Center for Thomas More Studies at the University of Dallas, associate professor of literature at Ave Maria University, and coeditor of Shakespeare's Last Plays: Essays in Politics and Literature.

The CUA catalog often has fascinating titles, but since it is a university press, many of the books are priced so that only a library could afford them--and the ebook price is the same at the hardcover!

Anyway, here's some information about the cover painting: "Holbien's Studio" by John Evan Hodgson (1831-1895) from the Wolverhampton Art Gallery in the West Midlands/Staffordshire:

Summary: Oil painting of a man looking at a portrait of himself on an easel. Next to him sits a woman and another man stands beside her, also looking at the portrait. The portrait is in an ornate gold frame. In the background detailed patterned wallpaper can be seen.

Description: The German painter Hans Holbein (1497-1543) came to England in the early 1530's on recommendation of the Dutch Humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam. He was employed by the court of Henry VIII through Sir Thomas More, a friend of Erasmus. Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) was an English statesman. He was also a humanist and wrote the book 'Utopia'. Henry VIII made him a diplomat and later Lord Chancellor. More was imprisoned and executed when he refused to sign Henry's Act of Supremacy making him more important than the Pope. Hodgeson's painting shows Holbein with More in his studio. He is showing More his finished portrait. Both men look quite happy about the finished product. Hodgeson must have seen portraits of both men by Holbein.

John Evan Hodgson was a member of the Royal Academy of Arts and if you are "quite happy about the finished product" in this picture, you can see more of John Evan Hodgson's work here.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The English Reformation Today: Episode Eight

The last five episodes of "The English Reformation" cover highlights from four centuries of English religious history, as the attention on the Tudors and all the religious changes have ben my focus thus far. With the new dynasty in power, I'll begin with the reign of James VI and I of Scotland and England and start telling the story of George Calvert, Lord Baltimore and Maryland:

The Stuarts of Scotland come to England: James VI of Scotland becomes James I of England--his religious background in Scotland and expectations in England. The Authorized Version of the Holy Bible: The King James Version and its impact. The Gunpowder Plot: Catholic reaction to James I's treatment of Catholics and the government's reaction to the Plot--the Fifth of November. Highlight the story of George Calvert, Lord Baltimore--his service to King James I; his reversion to Catholicism; his establishment of the Maryland Colony in New England and his great experiment in religious freedom and tolerance.

James I saw that the Elizabethan persecution of Catholics in England was not really a matter of punishing treason, but an attempt to enforce the orthodoxy of the Church of England: it was religious persecution. He thought that religious persecution was a sign of weakness of the Church of England and he wished to reduce the number of executions--while he was definitely ready to collect the fines and seize the property of those who refused to attend Church of England services. There are still martyrs during his reign, but the pattern of execution is more irregular. As I've discussed before:

James VI of Scotland and I of England and Ireland executed fewer priests and laity under his predecessor's treason and felony laws. Although terrified after the near miss, James was really rather restrained in his reaction to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. At least, he was restrained if you compare the numbers of Catholics executed for their faith in the years after the November 5, 1605 discovery of the plot to the brutal reaction of Elizabeth I's government after the failed Spanish Armada in 1588. In 1606, there were three martyrs (including Nicholas Owen by torture); one in 1607; three in 1608 (including Thomas Garnet, SJ); none in 1609. Compare that to the executions of 1588 alone: eight on August 28; six on August 30; seven more on October 1 and three on October 5--and the martyrdoms continued through the end of Elizabeth I's reign.

In 1610, however, in reaction to the assassination of King Henry IV of France by Francois Ravillac in May, James' fears were revived. The Oath of Allegiance, which he thought perfectly reasonable and limited to temporal loyalties, had not been accepted by Catholics as well as he hoped, and thus there was a slight uptick in executions--still only four (the others were Roger Cadwallador and George Napper, the latter in Oxford).

In 1611, George Abbott became Archbishop of Canterbury--he was more zealous in his suppression of Catholicism, but still only two martyrs in 1612; none from 1613 to 1615 (one that year, Robert Edmonds); six in 1616 and one in 1618. So that's 21 martyrs from 1606 to 1618 compared to 24 martyrs from August 28 to October 5, 1588!

Then things settled down again until the reign of Charles I.

I welcome all listeners of Radio Maria US to my blog, whether you're listening on one of their radio stations or on line or through one of their apps. I invite you to call in with questions and comments toll-free at 866-333-MARY(6279). Just a reminder, too, that podcasts of previous episodes of The English Reformation Today are available on the Radio Maria US website. Next week: Charles I and Cromwell!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Spying in Elizabethan England

Appropriately enough after yesterday's post on the Babington Plot and Sir Francis Walsingham's spy network against Mary, Queen of Scots, here is a review from the U.K. Guardian newspaper of a book about spying in Elizabethan England:

The age of Elizabeth I, so often celebrated as a period of glorious national achievement, was one of intense insecurity. Beset by enemies at home and abroad, the Queen knew that her hold on the crown was always precarious. The Catholic powers of Europe regarded her as a heretic and a bastard. Pope Pius V tried to depose her. Philip II of Spain attempted armed invasion. The loyalty of English Catholics, unreconciled to her Protestant church settlement, was always in doubt.

Elizabeth created further anxiety by persistently refusing to nominate her successor. The stability of the regime thus depended entirely on her own personal survival. As one MP put it in 1567: "If God should take her Majestie, the succession being not established, I know not what shall become of myself, my wife, my children, lands, goods, friends or country."

Feelings of anxiety and distrust were intensified by an unending series of conspiracies and assassination plots. The Rising of the Northern Earls in 1569, the Ridolfi Plot of 1569-71, the Throckmorton Plot of 1583 and the Babington Plot of 1585-6 were only the best publicised of repeated attempts to dethrone the Queen by insurrection, foreign invasion or simple assassination. There were three such plots in 1596 alone. Many of these conspiracies sought to replace Elizabeth with the Catholic Mary Stuart, the ex-Queen of the Scots who had taken refuge in England after her forced abdication in 1568, and whose strong hereditary claim to the succession was terminated only by her execution in 1587. . . .

Confronted by these threats, the Elizabethan government embarked on a draconian policy of counter-terrorism. The laws of treason were extended to catch not just those who questioned Elizabeth's right to rule, but all missionary priests and those who sheltered them. Torture was not permitted by the common law, but special powers were invoked to justify its regular use to extract information from Catholic suspects. The procedure in treason trials gave the accused no chance of offering an adequate defence, and unsafe convictions were common. The standard penalty for traitors was to be hanged, cut down when still alive, castrated, disembowelled and dismembered. Over 100 Catholic priests suffered this fate. This was not enough for Elizabeth, who wanted her Privy Councillors to devise an even more terrible death for the Babington conspirators, who had planned to murder her.

In my book collection I have this interesting title, Tudor Underground, by Denis Meadows. Kirkus Reviews wasn't that thrilled in 1950, but perhaps I'll read it again some day:

Personalities, hangings and quarterings, spies and Elizabethan religious turmoil provide a tempestuous background for a relatively pallid story of religious conversion. Hugh Rampling, young Catholic heir of an aquiline-nosed (and therefore, of course, loyal) English family attempts to align his hereditary Catholicism with a neutralized religious position which his career with the Protestant Principal Secretary, of Queen Elizabeth, Sir Francis Walsingham, demands. Aiding in the Secretary's spy ring formed to root out Catholic infiltration into England, Hugh, in successful adventures with a female demon aiding the purge, pursuers in Rome and in other narrow squeaks, is on the way up. However, in the midst of this uneasy neutrality, Hugh meets one of the most coveted prizes of the State -- Father Persons, a Jesuit priest. Not only does the priest induce Hugh to allow him and other followers to escape, but brings Hugh back into the fold, and positive action for the Catholic mission. Some elements of a good story here, but Hugh as the hero is the usual blank cartridge bright boy not peculiarly adaptive to heavenly meditation. A sprawling, uneven historical.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Traitors and A Poet: The Babington Plot

File:Portrait of young gentleman said to be Anthony Babington.jpg Anthony Babington (the portrait is from Wikipedia commons) was executed at St. Gile's Field on September 20, 1586, along with a Jesuit priest, John Ballard and several other conspirators--Chidiock Tichborne, Thomas Salisbury, Henry Donn among them. As traitors, of course, they were hung, drawn and quartered, but their executions and sufferings were so extreme--especially considering their relative youth--that the onlookers began to have sympathy for them. Queen Elizabeth ordered that the rest of the traitors to be executed were to be hung until dead (then cut up per the standard operating procedure).

Babington involved the imprisoned Mary, Queen of Scots in his plot to assassinate Elizabeth and bring Mary to the throne of England and this led to her execution within months. Beyond the plot's murderous intent, the disturbing aspect of this conspiracy is that Elizabeth's spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham, knew about the plot because he had a double agent in place who also served as an agent provocateur. There is an element of entrapment--especially regarding Mary's replies to correspondence--in Walsingham's handling of the matter. As the BBC History site notes:

Walsingham loathed Mary and everything she stood for, and vowed to bring her down. It was to take him almost 20 years. But when he discovered in 1586 that she was corresponding with a group of Catholics led by the young Anthony Babington, he seized his chance.

For the first stage of his plan, Walsingham used a spy named Gifford to act as a double agent. Gifford persuaded the local brewer to encourage Mary to use him as a secret means of communicating with the outside world. By establishing a system whereby Mary's personal letters were carried in and out of Chartley (her current residence) hidden in a beer barrel, Walsingham was able to intercept and decode her correspondence. The relatively simple code used by Mary was quickly deciphered, and translations were provided for Elizabeth. These letters were then resealed and sent on to their destination or delivered to Mary in prison. And so the plot progressed.

Walsingham, meanwhile, was biding his time. Luckily for him, Babington and his friends were enthusiastic but inexperienced plotters and were happy to discuss their plans in public. It was therefore not difficult for the authorities to keep track of their movements. Having outlined his plans to Mary, Babington now tried to secure her participation in the plot. This was the moment Walsingham had been waiting for. When the vital letter from Mary asking for details was intercepted, a postscript was forged in her hand asking for the identities of the plotters. The names were duly supplied, and their fate was sealed. Mary's involvement in the plot had been proven, and a gallows was drawn on the page by the decoding expert. Walsingham could now move in for the kill.

Young Chidiock Tichborne wrote an elegy while in the Tower which gained some fame with its haunting contrasts (note that all but one of the words is but one syllable and "fallen" could be pronounced as one by elision):

Tichborne’s Elegy
Written with His Own Hand in the Tower Before His Execution

My prime of youth is but a frost of cares,
My feast of joy is but a dish of pain,
My crop of corn is but a field of tares,
And all my good is but vain hope of gain;
The day is past, and yet I saw no sun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

My tale was heard and yet it was not told,
My fruit is fallen and yet my leaves are green,
My youth is spent and yet I am not old,
I saw the world and yet I was not seen;
My thread is cut and yet it is not spun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

I sought my death and found it in my womb,
I looked for life and saw it was a shade,
I trod the earth and knew it was my tomb,
And now I die, and now I was but made;
My glass is full, and now my glass is run,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

The Tichborne family was solidly, adamantly, recusantly Catholic: Chideock's cousins Father Thomas Tichborne and his brother Nicholas were executed (because Thomas was a Catholic priest and his brother helped him to escape, in 1602 and 1601, respectively).

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Catholic Revival in English Literature

The Catholic Revival In English Literature,1845-1961: Newman, Hopkins, Belloc, Chesterton, Greene, WaughSeveral years ago, I read Father Ian Ker's The Catholic Revival in English Literature, 1845-1961: Newman, Hopkins, Belloc, Chesterton, Greene, Waugh from the University of Notre Dame Press:

The Catholic Revival in English Literature, 1845–1961 presents a thorough discussion of the six principal writers of the Catholic revival in English literature—Newman, Hopkins, Belloc, Chesterton, Greene, and Waugh. Beginning with Newman’s conversion in 1845 and ending with Waugh’s completion of the triology The Sword of Honor in 1961, this book explores how Catholicism shaped the work of these six prominent writers.

John Henry Newman claimed in The Idea of a University that post-Reformation English literature was overwhelmingly Protestant and that there was no prospect of a Catholic body of literature. Describing this claim as “happily lacking in prescience,” Ian Ker persuasively argues that Newman, Hopkins, Belloc, Chesterton, Greene, and Waugh succeeded in producing a substantial body of literature written by Catholics who wrote as Catholics. These revivalists were not so much influenced by traditional themes of guilt, sin, and ceremony, as they were attracted to unexpected facets of Catholicism. The idea of a Catholic priest as a craftsman is a recurring motif, as is the celebration of the ordinariness and objectivity of Catholicism.

Ker’s compelling and intelligent reading of these six major writers will appeal to anyone with an interest in nineteenth- and twentieth-century English literature, or the relation between literature and theology.

Now I have, but have not yet commenced to read, Adam Schwartz's The Third Spring: G.K. Chesterton, Graham Greene, Christopher Dawson, and David Jones from Catholic University of America Press:
For most of modern history, Roman Catholics in Britain were a "rejected minority," facing hostility and estrangement from a culture increasingly at odds with traditional Christianity. Yet British Catholicism underwent a remarkable intellectual and literary renewal, especially in the twentieth century, drawing a disproportionate number of the age's leading minds into its ranks. The Third Spring unravels this paradox of a renascent Catholic culture within a post-Christian society. It does so through detailed profiles of the spiritual journeys and religious and cultural beliefs of four seminal members of that twentieth-century revival: G. K. Chesterton, Graham Greene, Christopher Dawson, and David Jones.

Although these four authors came from different backgrounds and wrote primarily in different genres, each converted to Roman Catholicism as an adult and made his new faith the foundation of his intellectual and artistic work. All of them judged the Church to be the last corporate voice of orthodox Christianity in a hitherto unmatched irreligious climate of opinion; and they concluded that the Roman Catholic vision of human nature, thought, history, and art was truer and richer than proposed by prevailing secularism. They thus built on the nineteenth-century "Second Spring" of British Catholicism proclaimed by John Henry Newman to create a fresh assertion of Roman Catholicism, one suited to an era of unprecedented unbelief: a Third Spring.

This book is the first detailed examination of these four authors as part of a Roman Catholic, counter-modern community of discourse. It is informed by extensive research in the writers' works, scholarship on them, and their personal papers. This study is also distinguished by its careful attention to the authors' cultural and religious contexts, and to the psychology and theology of conversion. It will therefore deepen understanding, and correct some misconceptions, of each man's spiritual development and his thought, while revealing the twentieth-century Catholic literary revival to be a distinct movement in both British and Roman Catholic thought.

And the author of The Third Spring here reviews yet another book on Catholics and English Literature: The Pen and the Cross: Catholicism and English Literature, 1850 to 2000 by Richard Griffiths from Continuum (2010):

Although The Pen and the Cross provides some insight into British Catholic imaginative writing and its historical context, its sympathies for favored literary critical models and for modernist and progressive theology preclude it from presenting a comprehensive portrait of the Catholic renascence or from appreciating what made it distinctive. . . .

As accurate as Griffiths’s descriptions of the nature and history of British Catholic intellectual life are, his analysis of them is marred by his interpretive frameworks. Griffiths shows a marked preference for writers whose work reveals “acceptance of modern trends in literature,” regarding them as a “refreshing departure.” His treatments of novels therefore privilege realistic fiction, which twentieth-century critics typically considered the foremost arena of forward-looking artistry. But this emphasis presents a grave problem for a synthetic investigation of Catholic literature. Although Griffiths claims correctly that realistic fiction has been the “dominant strain” in British Catholic narrative prose, he admits and discusses the substantial Catholic presence in other such genres, including historical fiction, detective stories, and fantasy. Yet his examination excludes utterly the finest Catholic fabulist, J. R. R. Tolkien.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Father John Gerard's Autobiography

Ignatius Press has reissued this translation of Father John Gerard, SJ's autobiography made by Father Philip Caraman, SJ , unexpurgated, with an introduction by Father James V. Schall, SJ:

Truth is stranger than fiction. And nowhere in literature is it so apparent as in this classic work, the Autobiography of a Hunted Priest. This autobiography of a Jesuit priest in Elizabethan England is a most remarkable document and John Gerard, its author, a most remarkable priest in a time when to be a Catholic in England courted imprisonment and torture; to be a priest was treason by act of Parliament.
Smuggled into England after his ordination and dumped on a Norfolk beach at night, Fr. Gerard disguised himself as a country gentleman and traveled about the country saying Mass, preaching and ministering to the faithful in secret - always in constant danger. The houses in which he found shelter were frequently raided by "priest hunters"; priest-holes, hide-outs and hair-breadth escapes were part of his daily life. He was finally caught and imprisoned, and later removed to the infamous Tower of London where he was brutally tortured.
The stirring account of his escape, by means of a rope thrown across the moat, is a daring and magnificent climax to a true story which, for sheer narrative power and interest, far exceeds any fiction. Here is an accurate and compelling picture of England when Catholics were denied their freedom to worship and endured vicious persecution and often martyrdom.
But more than the story of a single priest, the Autobiography of a Hunted Priest epitomizes the constant struggle of all human beings through the ages to maintain their freedom. It is a book of courage and of conviction whose message is most timely for our age.

This edition is unexpurgated because it includes Father Gerard's comments about the disagreements between the Jesuits and other missionary priests, including Father William Watson.

One of the most famous excerpts from this story is Gerard's account of his torture, as he was hung by his wrists (as St. Robert Southwell was) in the Tower of London:

My arms were then lifted up and an iron bar was passed through the rings of one gauntlet, then through the staple and rings to the second gauntlet. This done, they fastened the bar with a pin to prevent it from slipping, and then, removing the wicker steps one by one from under my feet, they left me hanging by my hands and arms fastened above my head. The tips of my toes, however, still touched the ground, and they had to dig the earth away from under them. They had hung me up from the highest staple in the pillar and could not raise me any higher, without driving in another staple. Hanging like this I began to pray. The gentlemen standing around me asked me whether I was willing to confess now. 'I cannot and I will not,' I answered. But I could hardly utter the words, such a gripping pain came over me. It was worst in my chest and belly, my hands and arms. All the blood in my body seemed to rush up into my arms and hands and I thought that blood was oozing from the ends of my fingers and the pores of my skin. But it was only a sensation caused by my flesh swelling above the irons holding them.
The pain was so intense that I thought I could not possibly endure it, and added to it, I had an interior temptation. Yet I did not feel any inclination or wish to give them the information they wanted. The Lord saw my weakness with the eyes of His mercy, and did not permit me to be tempted beyond my strength. With the temptation He sent me relief. Seeing my agony and the struggle going on in my mind, He gave me this most merciful thought: the utmost and worst they can do is to kill you, and you have often wanted to give your life for your Lord God. The Lord God sees all you are enduring - He can do all things. You are in God's keeping.
With these thoughts, God in His infinite goodness and mercy gave me the grace of resignation, and with a desire to die and a hope (I admit) that I would, I offered Him myself to do with me as He wished. From that moment the conflict in my soul ceased, and even the physical pain seemed much more bearable than before, though it must, in fact, I am sure, have been greater with the growing strain and weariness of my body... Sometime after one o'clock, I think, I fell into a faint. How long I was unconscious I don't know, but I think it was long, for the men held my body up or put the wicker steps under my feet until I came to. Then they heard me pray and immediately let me down again. And they did this every time I fainted - eight or nine times that day - before it struck five...

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Long Reformation, redux

This might be an interesting new release: The Long European Reformation, second edition, by Peter G. Wallace, from Palgrave Macmillan:

Peter G. Wallace adeptly interweaves the influential events of the early modern religious reformation with the transformations of political institutions, socio-economic structures, gender relations, and cultural values throughout Europe. In this established study, Wallace:
* examines the European Reformation as a long-term process
* reconnects the classic sixteenth-century religious struggles with the political and religious pressures confronting late medieval Christianity
* argues that the resolutions proposed by reformers, such as Luther, were not fully realised for most Christians until the early eighteenth century.

Incorporating the latest research, the second edition of this essential text now features a new chapter on the Reformation and Islam, expanded discussion of gender issues, and a helpful glossary.

Table of Contents:

List of Maps
Preface to the Second Edition
The Late Medieval Crisis, 1347-1517
Resistance, Renewal, and Reform, 1414-1521
Evangelical Movements and Confessions, 1521-59
Reformation and Religious War, 1550-1650
Settlements, 1600-1750: Church Building, State Building, and Social Discipline
Rereading the Reformation through Gender Analysis
The Reformation and Islam: From Menace to Coexistence
Select Bibliography

I don't know if I'm that excited about "Gender Analysis" but much of the other content looks fascinating. I must admit that when I wrote Supremacy and Survival: How Catholics Endured the English Reformation, I did not know about this academic theory of the "Long Reformation". As I studied the English Reformation, however, it was clear to me that England endured religious change/reformation for hundreds of years, primarily because of the monarchy's authority over the church in England--whenever there was a change in monarchy, there was some change in religion. This pattern endures through the Tudor dynasty with Henry VIII's heirs, and manifests itself in the longer Stuart dynasty: James I to Charles I, Cromwell to Charles II; James II to William and Mary; Anne to George I: every change in the authority of the monarch or protector meant a change in religious settlement. Turns out that this is an ongoing theme of research, even in the English Reformation. See this course description from Sewanee, for example:

This course examines the role of ritual and worship in the religious history of England, ca. 1530 to ca. 1700. It studies the transformation of a traditional religion based on rituals into a religious system based as much on word as on rite. The course draws connections between these religious changes and the larger political, social, and cultural contexts in which they occurred.

Palgrave Macmillan provides a sample on their website (55 pages of material!) and some other interesting resources for this volume in their European History in Perspective series.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Episode Seven of The English Reformation Today

In this episode, I'll discuss two major crises in the reign of Elizabeth I and their impact on Catholics in England: First: Mary, Queen of Scots' presence on the island and as Elizabeth's prisoner and Second: the Spanish Armada.

The English response to the failure of the Spanish Armada is fascinating and horrifying, as a series of executions in London and southeast England demonstrated how dangerous Catholic priests and laity were to the country--while Catholic nobles had offered their help to defeat the Armada. The sad story of Mary, Queen Scots meant that some Catholics did form conspiracies to dethrone Elizabeth and replace her with Mary--but Elizabeth's own spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham encouraged the plots so much that it's not always clear how much entrapment led the conspirators on.

As fascinating as these historical events are, I really want to dedicate as much time as possible to the martyrs who died during this last half of Elizabeth's long reign: St. Margaret Ward. St. Robert Southwell, St. Philip Howard, St. Henry Walpole, and St. Anne Line.

Then I'll make the transition from Elizabeth I to James VI of Scotland as her heir, with some final remarks on the Tudor dynasty and a review of the status of Catholics in 1603, as James (Mary, Queen of Scots' son) headed south to London to be crowned King James I of England and start a new dynasty: the Stuarts.

I welcome all listeners of Radio Maria US to my blog, whether you're listening on one of their radio stations or on line or through one of their apps. I invite you to call in with questions and comments toll-free at 866-333-MARY(6279). Just a reminder, too, that podcasts of previous episodes of The English Reformation Today are available on the Radio Maria US website.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Anne Boleyn's Jailer Dies

Illustration: Anne Boleyn in the Tower, speaking with William Kingston, the Constable of the Tower. c1855Sir William Kingston, Constable of the Tower, died on September 15, 1540. On 28 May 1524 he became constable of the Tower at a salary of £100 and when Anne Boleyn and those accused of adultery with her were brought to the Tower, he was in charge.

He met Anne when she was conveyed to the Tower and he reported on her to Thomas Cromwell, for example, when he had to tell her of a delay in her execution:

"This morning she sent for me, that I might be with her at such time as she received the good Lord, to the intent I should hear her speak as touching her innocency alway to be clear. And in the writing of this she sent for me, and at my coming she said, "Mr. Kingston, I hear I shall not die afore noon, and I am very sorry therefore, for I thought to be dead by this time and past my pain." I told her it should be no pain, it was so little. And then she said, "I heard say the executioner was very good, and I have a little neck", and then put her hands about it, laughing heartily. I have seen many men and also women executed, and that they have been in great sorrow, and to my knowledge this lady has much joy in death. Sir, her almoner is continually with her, and had been since two o'clock after midnight."

The Tudors (show) wiki has more detail about him here, including his letters to Cromwell about her behavior and her requests--for example, for the Blessed Sacrament and her confessor.

The Triumph of the Cross and Mary's Sorrows

Last year I posted on Rood Screens in English churches before the Reformation: see that post here.

My latest article, exploring the Feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross and the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, on the Pray the Mass blog will be posted early this morning here. Here's a preview:

The Feast of the Triumph of the Cross was observed in Rome in the late seventh century to commemorate the recovery of the Holy Cross by the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius in 629. St. Helena, Constantine’s mother, had found the True Cross in Jerusalem in the fourth century but the Persians had captured it and returned it after Heraclius defeated the Persian king Khosrau. The emperor returned it to Jerusalem, and this feast recalls that event.
But on a deeper level, of course, the Feast recalls Jesus’ triumph over death and the fulfillment of His great statement, “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself." (John 12:32, which serves as the Communion Antiphon). The liturgy of the Mass for this Feast includes both triumph and sorrow in the readings and prayers, since Jesus both suffers His Passion and defeats sin and death. From the Book of Numbers, the First Reading recalls the story of Moses and the bronze Seraph, raised on a pole—when the people Israel who had been grumbling against God for their sufferings, looked up to the serpent, they were healed of the serpent bites God had sent to afflict them. . . .

Earlier this month, Pray the Mass ran this article I wrote on Pope St. Pius X and Holy Communion--in it I demonstrate how I can find a link between my studies of the English Reformation and almost anything!:

As I’ve studied the English Reformation, I’ve read often about the state of religious practice before Henry VIII broke away from the Pope and established himself as Supreme Head and Governor of the Church of England. As Eric Ives points out in his recent study, The Reformation Experience, 16th century Catholics in England demonstrated great devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. At Sunday Mass, they were most attentive at the moment of consecration, worshipping the Body and the Blood of Jesus as the priest elevated the Host and the Chalice. At great shrines and cathedrals, the faithful wanted to see the Precious Body and Blood as each Mass was celebrated in separate chapels. The Feast of Corpus Christi was instantly popular in England with its processions and special liturgies as written by the Dominican friar, Thomas Aquinas. Holy Week, with its special vigil protecting the consecrated Host from Good Friday to Easter, also demonstrates their devotion to the Real Presence. The one thing they did not do is receive Holy Communion often. They were obligated to receive during the Easter Season (Easter Duty), but the practice of frequent Communion had fallen off during the Middle Ages. . . .

On this Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, the sad connection to the English Reformation is the destruction of the Rood Screens, the statutes or figure of the Mother of God and the Beloved Disciple standing on either of the crucified Christ, and the widespread iconoclasm repeated over and over again in England during the long period of religious change--even to the English Civil War when Parliamentary forces destroyed so much of the beauty restored by Archbishop of Canterbury William Laud. No wonder some call it the "English Deformation"!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sir John Cheke, Classical Scholar

John Cheke.jpgSir John Cheke died on September 13, 1557. He had been a great scholar at University of Cambridge, reformer of the mode of pronouncing Greek, and the tutor to Prince Edward, later Edward VI.

According to this site, he also took part in the change in succession from Princess Mary to Lady Jane Grey, and that clearly got him into some trouble when Mary I came to the throne:

His zeal for the protestant religion induced him to concur, on the death of Edward VI, in the settlement of the crown on the Lady Jane Grey, and he acted as secretary of state during her brief reign. Immediately after Queen Mary's accession he was committed to the Tower on an accusation of treason, 27 July 1553. He was discharged from custody on 13 Sept. 1554, and about the same time obtained a pardon and the royal license to travel abroad. After residing for some time at Basle he went to Italy, and at Padua he met some of his countrymen, to whom he read and interpreted some of the orations of Demosthenes. Subsequently he settled at Strasburg, where he read a Greek lecture for his subsistence.

At the beginning of 1556 he resolved to go to Brussels, where his wife was, chiefly in consequence of a treacherous invitation from Lord Paget and Sir John Mason. As, however, he was a firm believer in astrology, he first consulted the stars to ascertain whether he might safely undertake the journey, and fell into a fatal snare on his return between Brussels and Antwerp, for, by order of Philip II, he and Sir Peter Carew, with whom he was travelling, were suddenly seized by the provost-marshal on 15 May, unhorsed, blindfolded, bound, thrown into a wagon, conveyed to the nearest harbour, put on board a ship, under hatches, and brought to the Tower of London, where they were placed in close confinement. The alleged ground of his committal was, that having obtained license to travel, he had not returned to England by the time specified in his license.

In the Tower he was visited by two of the queen's chaplains, who tried in vain to induce him to alter his religious opinions. The desire of gaining over so eminent a man caused the queen to send to him Dr. Feckenham, dean of St. Paul's, a divine of moderate and obliging temper. Cheke had been acquainted with him in the late king's reign, and had tried to convert him to protestantism when he was a prisoner in the Tower. Cheke's courage began to fail at the prospect of the stake, and he was at his own request carried before Cardinal Pole, who gravely advised him to return to the unity of the church. Cheke dared hold out no longer, and Feckenham had the credit of effecting his conversion. He made in writing a profession of his belief in the real presence, and sent the paper by the dean of St. Paul's to the cardinal, with a letter dated from the Tower on 15 July, praying that he might be spared the shame of making an open recantation.

This request being refused, he addressed to the queen on the same day a letter in which he declared his readiness to obey all laws and orders concerning religion. After this, in order to declare his repentance for his rejection of the pope, he made a formal submission before the cardinal, as the pope's legate, and after being absolved he was received back into the Roman church. He was kept in prison for upwards of two months before he was allowed to make his public recantation. This was done on 4 Oct. in the most public manner before the queen, and for the sake of greater formality the reading of the palinode was preceded by an oration addressed to her majesty by Feckenham. Cheke was also obliged to read a longer form of recantation in presence of the whole court, and to promise to perform whatever penances might be enjoined upon him by the legate. After having submitted to all these humiliations he was released from the Tower, and regained his lands, which, however, he was forced to exchange with the queen for others.

Pining away with shame and regret for his abjuration of protestantism, he died on 13 Sept. 1557 in Wood Street, London, in the house of his friend Peter Osborne, remembrancer of the exchequer.

"The English Reformation Today" Podcasts

After the live Saturday broadcast of "The English Reformation Today", Radio Maria US repeats the show on Wednesday morning, and then the most recent podcast is uploaded to this page on their website.

Saturday, September 8's episode was the first part of a two part discussion of the reign of Elizabeth I and what it meant for Catholics in the 16th century:

Describe the legislation that established the Church of England as a via media compromise between Calvinism and Catholicism (The Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-Nine Articles). Catholic Reaction: The Northern Rebellion.The controversial excommunication of Elizabeth I by Pope St. Pius V--casting suspicion on all Catholics in England and leading to recusancy and martyrdom. Stories of early martyrs like St. Edmund Campion and St. Margaret Clitherow.

The most relevant issue today of the episode is the issue of divided loyalty and obedience to authority. To whom did English Catholics owe their homage? Their queen or the pope? For some reason--and this would be an interesting research project--the sixteenth century political order could not apply Jesus's Gospel admonition to render unto Caesar what was Caesar's and to God what is God's to the vision of a united polity. In the sixteenth century there was little or no notion of diversity or certainly plurality. Throughout Europe the motto cuius regno, eius religio (the religion of the ruler was the religion of the ruled) prevailed. The pope's position as a temporal ruler of the Papal States also confused the issue: were Catholics being loyal to their own nation or to a foreign power? The English government was convinced that Catholics could not be loyal to England even temporally if they were loyal to Rome even spiritually.

Now, our situation in the United States has parallels but some important distinctions too: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has been pointing out since January this year, through the Fortnight for Freedom and even into the current political season, that religous liberty has been endangered by the U. S. Government through the HHS Contraceptive, Abortafacient, and Sterilization Mandate--especially because of the limited definition of a religious organization AND the lack of an opt-out conscience clause. Like the English Catholics of the sixteenth century, Catholic business owners, for example, have to choose between two loyalties, between their Church doctrine and the US Government law--if they wish to be faithful to God and His Church's teachings, they cannot comply with the state's new demands for loyalty. They will not suffer blood martyrdom, but they will be fined; they can fight the law in the Courts, but their risk is great. The most important distinction is that Catholics in the U.S.A. as citizens have opportunities/rights to campaign for change through legislation, the justice system, and the electoral system: Elizabeth I's Catholic subjects did not have these opportunities.

English Catholics pressed for a view that they were temporally loyal to Elizabeth I but spiritually loyal to Pope Pius V, and their respective successors. Elizabeth I, because of her instability on the throne, could not accept that view, although it was expressed by many of the Catholic martyrs even as they faced death--they could accept her as monarch but not as governor of the church in England. And then there came the "bloody question": when it came to armed conflict or invasion, with whom would they side, England or attacking Catholic power. That's the crucial question coming up in the next episode when we look at the Spanish Armada or the plots against Elizabeth I to replace her on the throne with Mary, the former Queen of Scots.

This Saturday, Sepember 15's episode will conclude the discussion of Elizabeth and introduce the new dynasty, the Stuarts of Scotland. By focusing on the two dangers to Elizabeth's throne, we'll also see the result of this divided loyality--even when Catholics DID support their country when facing invasion, they were punished by the state and when Catholics despaired of receiving any tolerance for their Faith in their own country, they turned to desparate measures, hoping for a change in leadership as the only means of relief:

Explain the two great dangers to Elizabeth and how they affected Catholics: her rivalry with Mary, Queen of Scots and the Spanish Armada (plots led by Catholics to depose Elizabeth and replace her with Mary on England's throne and the Catholic position on the Spanish Armada). Describe the wave of martyrdoms of Catholic priests and laity after the Armada: why are they martyrs?  Describe the end of the Tudor dynasty and the transition to the Stuart dynasty--the status of Catholics in 1603.

Once the Elizabethan government designated all Catholic priests as traitors and most Catholic laymen as potential traitors, a long-lived anti-Catholicism developed in England: a prejudice that certainly emigrated from England to New England in the 17th century.