Friday, November 30, 2012

Book Review: "Daughters of the Witching Hill"

After I reviewed her book Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen, Mary Sharratt, noting my interest in the English Reformation, offered to send me a review copy of an earlier work, Daughters of the Witching Hill for my honest opinion. Except for a couple of moments when I had some trouble suspending my disbelief that the first person narrator would be able to recount certain details (her own execution, at the end of the novel, for example!) I was held enthralled, enchanted, and in suspense by this novel.

As the book's description summarizes the story:

Daughters of theWitching Hill brings history to life in a vivid and wrenching account of a family sustained by love as they try to survive the hysteria of a witch-hunt.

Bess Southerns, an impoverished widow living in Pendle Forest, is haunted by visions and gains a reputation as a cunning woman. Drawing on the Catholic folk magic of her youth, Bess heals the sick and foretells the future. As she ages, she instructs her granddaughter, Alizon, in her craft, as well as her best friend, who ultimately turns to dark magic.

When a peddler suffers a stroke after exchanging harsh words with Alizon, a local magistrate, eager to make his name as a witch finder, plays neighbors and family members against one another until suspicion and paranoia reach frenzied heights.

Sharratt interweaves well-researched historical details of the 1612 Pendle witch-hunt with a beautifully imagined story of strong women, family, and betrayal. Daughters of the Witching Hill is a powerful novel of intrigue and revelation.

The Pendle witch hunt is well documented--Court Clerk Thomas Potts  wrote an account of the 1612 trials,  The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster--and Sharratt has made good use of that source. Her other great source, and the other danger lurking in Lancashire, is the history of Catholic recusancy in the area. One of the victims of the Pendle witch trials was Alice Nutter, a Catholic widow. The novel suggests that she accepted death by hanging as a witch to avoid any involvement of her son and their household--which was a safe house for a Jesuit priest. To the magistrate, Roger Newell, she and her recusancy are just as dangerous and Demdike and her family's cunning witchcraft.

As this site notes:

Among those fatally tainted by little Jennet [the chief accuser in the trial] was Alice Nutter. Jennet would place Alice and several of the other accused at a Good Friday meeting which was described in court as a witches’ Sabbath. Alice never confessed and remained silent to the end. At her execution, writes Thomas Potts, “she died very impenitent, insomuch as her own children were never able to move her to confess any particular offence, or declare any thing, even in Articulo Mortis, which was a fearful thing to all that were present, who knew she was guilty.” Alice was not alone in refusing to confess; but what does make her extraordinary, the enigma of the 1612 trial, was her social background. She was a gentlewoman who owned land and had servants. Furthermore, there is much evidence to suggest that Alice was also a recusant and a prominent one at that; in fact it is likely that the Good Friday gathering at which she was present was more Catholic Mass than witches’ Sabbath. Alice’s faith was another reason why she was framed.

The Nutter family is indeed a famous recusant family in the area, with two beatified martyrs: John Nutter (in 1584) and Robert Nutter (in 1600).

Sharratt depicts much of the healing and the blessing work of the accused witches as Catholic prayers and devotions (and the use of herbs and teas or potions). While many in the community around Pendle Hill had conformed to the Church of England, and Sharratt depicts a very Calvinist minister, they valued the healings and blessings Bess, Liza, and Alizon offer. They may be stunned when they hear the Latin of the Ave Maria or Salve Regina, the Pater Noster, and Credo, but they rejoice when their child or even their animal is restored to health. Without the outward signs of Grace, sanctioned by the Catholic Church in the Sacraments and in devotions, the folk magic of the cunning women, as they are called, seemed to fill the void. One of the young Protestant girls even asks Alizon to pray for her soul after death, hoping for Purgatory and preparation for Heaven and fearing the Calvinist predestination preached in the New Church!

The tension and suspense in the novel comes from the anticipation--when are they going to get caught? The recusant families in the area are in the same situation--how long can they hide the fugitive priest? Both the cunning women and the Catholics know they are in danger from the authorities and both try to hide in plain sight as much as they can--Alice Nutter attends the Church of England services on Sunday (a Church Papist), as do the Southerns family and friends. As I read the novel, I was concerned for all the women and children involved, because I knew they were going to suffer. The scenes in the dungeon at Lancaster Castle clarified the torture of being in irons and held in foul conditions, which I have mentioned in connection with the punishment meted out to priests and laity held in prison.

Mary Sharratt cites two essential sources for her historical research (other than the record of the trial and living next to Pendle Hill): Eamon Duffy's The Stripping of the Altars and Keith Thomas' Religion and the Decline of Magic, first published in 1971. Another important work, which I have perused but not read through, is Christopher Haigh's Reformation and Resistance in Tudor Lancashire.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

St. Cuthbert Mayne, Protomartyr

St. Cuthbert Mayne:

Martyr, b. at Yorkston, near Barnstaple, Devonshire (baptized 20 March, 1543-4); d. at Launceston, Cornwall, 29 Nov., 1577. He was the son of William Mayne; his uncle was a schismatical priest, who had him educated at Barnstaple Grammar School, and he was ordained a Protestant minister at the age of eighteen or nineteen. He then went to Oxford, first to St. Alban's Hall, then to St. John's College, where he took the degree of M.A. in 1570. He there made the acquaintance of Blessed Edmund Campion, Gregory Martin, the controversialist, Humphrey Ely, Henry Shaw, Thomas Bramston, O.S.B., Henry Holland, Jonas Meredith, Roland Russell, and William Wiggs. The above list shows how strong a Catholic leaven was still working at Oxford. Late in 1570 a letter from Gregory Martin to Blessed Cuthbert fell into the Bishop of London's hands. He at once sent a pursuivant to arrest Blessed Cuthbert and others mentioned in the letter.

Cuthbert was in the country, and being warned by Blessed Thomas Ford, he evaded arrest by going to Cornwall, whence he arrived at Douai in 1573. Having become reconciled to the Church, he was ordained in 1575; in Feb., 1575-6 he took the degree of S.T.B. at Douai University; and on 24 April, 1576 he left for the English mission in the company of Blessed John Payne. Blessed Cuthbert took up his abode with the future confessor, Francis Tregian, of Golden, in St. Probus's parish, Cornwall. This gentleman suffered imprisonment and loss of possessions for this honour done him by our martyr. At his house our martyr was arrested 8 June, 1577, by the high sheriff, Grenville, who was knighted for the capture. He was brought to trial in September; meanwhile his imprisonment was of the harshest order. His indictment under statutes of 1 and 13 Elizabeth was under five counts: first, that he had obtained from the Roman See a "faculty", containing absolution of the queen's subjects; second, that he had published the same at Golden; third, that he had taught the ecclesiastical authority of the pope in Launceston Gaol; fourth, that he had brought into the kingdom an Agnus Dei and had delivered the same to Mr. Tregian; fifth, that he had said Mass.

As to the first and second counts, the martyr showed that the supposed "faculty" was merely a copy printed at Douai of an announcement of the Jubilee of 1575, and that its application having expired with the end of the jubilee, he certainly had not published it either at Golden or elsewhere. As to the third count, he maintained that he had said nothing definite on the subject to the three illiterate witnesses who asserted the contrary. As to the fourth count, he urged that the fact that he was wearing an Agnus Dei at the time of his arrest was no evidence that he had brought it into the kingdom or delivered it to Mr. Tregian. As to the fifth count, he contended that the finding of a Missal, a chalice, and vestments in his room did not prove that he had said Mass.

Nevertheless the jury found him guilty of high treason on all counts, and he was sentenced accordingly. His execution was delayed because one of the judges, Jeffries, altered his mind after sentence and sent a report to the Privy Council. They submitted the case to the whole Bench of Judges, which was inclined to Jeffries's view. Nevertheless, for motives of policy, the Council ordered the execution to proceed. On the night of 27 November his cell was seen by the other prisoners to be full of a strange bright light. The details of his martyrdom must be sought in the works hereinafter cited. [CAMM, Lives of the English Martyrs, II (London, 1905), 204-222, 656; POLLEN, Cardinal Allen's Briefe Historie (London, 1908), 104-110; COOPER in Dict. Nat. Biog., s.v.; CHALLONER, Memoirs of Missionary Priests, I; GILLOW, Bibl. Dict. Eng. Cath., s.v.; DASENT, Acts of the Privy Council (London, 1890-1907), IX, 375, 390; X, 6, 7, 85.] It is enough to say that all agree that he was insensible, or almost so, when he was disembowelled. A rough portrait of the martyr still exists; and portions of his skull are in various places, the largest being in the Carmelite Convent, Lanherne, Cornwall.

The date of his execution is variously reported on-line; some sources say November 29 and some November 30. Beatified 29 December 1886 by Pope leo XIII (cultus confirmation) and canonized in 1970 by Pope Paul VI (decree of martyrdom). The Catholic Parish of St. Cuthbert Mayne in Launceston, Cornwall celebrates his feast today. As one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, he shares the feast day of May 4; as one of the Douai Martyrs, he would also share that feast of October 29! Gracewing published a biography of this protomartyr in 1984.

Blessed Martyrs in York: One Priest; Three Laymen

Blessed Edward Burden: After 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. Note that like Blessed John Henry Newman in the 19th century, Father Burden was a Trinity man!

On the same date in York, eight years later, three laymen were hung, drawn and quartered, found guilty of the treason of attempting to convert another English subject to Catholicism: 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). 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 as 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.

I do not find any record of it, but I suspect that Esquire Stapleton of Carlton (Richard Stapleton of Carlton?) would have been questioned by authorities--"Do Papist priests come to your house often, Esquire?"

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The "Octave" of Christ the King and the English Martyrs

It was on the Solemnity of Jesus Christ the King of the Universe in 1987 (November 22) that Blessed John Paul II beatified the Eighty-Five Martyrs of England and Wales:

This feast of Christ the King proclaims that all earthly power is ultimately from God, that his Kingdom is our first and lasting concern and that obedience to his laws is more important than any other obligation or loyalty.

Thomas More, that most English of saints, declared on the scaffold: “I die the King’s good servant but God’s servant first". In this way he witnessed to the primacy of the Kingdom.

Today we have declared Blessed another eighty-five martyrs: from England, Scotland and Wales, and one from Ireland. Each of them chose to be "God’s servant First". They consciously and willingly embraced death for love of Christ and the Church. They too chose the Kingdom above all else. If the price had to be death they would pay it with courage and joy.

Blessed Nicholas Postgate welcomed his execution "as a short cut to heaven". Blessed Joseph Lambton encouraged those who were to die with him with the words "Let us be merry, for tomorrow I hope we shall have a heavenly breakfast". Blessed Hugh Taylor, not knowing the day of his death, said: "How happy I should be if on this Friday, on which Christ died for me, I might encounter death for him". He was executed on that very day, Friday 6 November 1585. Blessed Henry Heath, who died in 1643, thanked the court for condemning him and giving him the "singular honour to die with Christ".

Among these eighty-five martyrs we find priests and laymen, scholars and craftsmen. The oldest was in his eighties, and the youngest no more than twenty-four. There were among them a printer, a bartender, a stable-hand, a tailor. What unites them all is the sacrifice of their lives in the service of Christ their Lord.

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.

These martyrs gave their lives for their loyalty to the authority of the Successor of Peter, who alone is Pastor of the whole flock. They also gave their lives for the unity of the Church, since they shared the Church’s fait, unaltered down the ages, that the Successor of Peter has been given the task of serving and ensuring "the unity of the flock of Christ". He has been given by Christ the particular role of confirming the faith of his brethren.

The martyrs grasped the importance of that Petrine ministry. They gave their lives rather than deny this truth of their faith. Over the centuries the Church in England, Wales and Scotland has drawn inspiration from these martyrs and continues in love of the Mass and in faithful adherence to the Bishop of Rome. The same loyalty and faithfulness to the Pope is demonstrated today whenever the work of renewal in the Church is carried out in accordance with the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and in communion with the universal Church.

Central to this renewal, to which the Holy Spirit calls the Church, is work for that unity among Christians for which Christ himself prayed. We must all rejoice that the hostilities between Christians, which so shaped the age of these martyrs, are over, replaced by fraternal love and mutual esteem.

Seventeen years ago forty of the glorious company of martyrs were canonized. It was the prayer of the Church on that day that the blood of those martyrs would be a source of healing for the divisions between Christians. Today we may fittingly give thanks for the progress made in the intervening years towards fuller communion between Anglicans and Catholics. We rejoice in the deeper understanding, broader collaboration and common witness that have taken place through the power of God.

In the days of the martyrs whom we honour today, there were other Christians who died for their beliefs. We can all now appreciate and respect their sacrifice. Let us respond together to the great challenge which confronts those who would preach the Gospel in our age. Let us be bold and united in our profession of our common Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.
Blessed Martyrs of England and Wales, pray for us!

Blessed James Thompson, aka James Pierce

Blessed James Thompson was a Yorkshireman who studied at Douai and Rheims, and who after ordination, was sent on the English mission. It was 1581. He and Nicholas Fox were ordained to all the minor orders, diaconate and priesthood within twelve (12) days in May that year. Thompson was very ill at the time and hardly able to stand. Nevertheless, he certainly recovered because he was on his way to the mission by August 10. A year plus a day later on August 11 he was arrested at the house of a Mr Branton in York. He would not acknowledge the Queen to the Supreme head of the Church so it was commanded that in prison he should be loaded with double irons.

He remained like this for 17 days before being led to the castle.On November 25 he was tried and condemned to the death of someone who had been found guilty of high treason. He spent the remainder of his time, day and night, in prayer and in labouring to gain souls to God and His church.

He was taken to the place of execution on a hurdle, where climbing the ladder he declared that he died in the Catholic Faith and for the Catholic Faith and that he had never been guilty of any treason against his queen or country.

So, after praying again for a while, commending his soul to his creator, he was flung off the ladder and was observed, whilst he was hanging, first to lift up his hands towards heaven, then to strike his breast with his right hand, and lastly, to the great astonishment of the spectators, distinctly to form the sign of the cross. He suffered at York on 28 November 1582

Since he was found guilty in 1582, the government had to implicate him in a plot against Elizabeth I, since Parliament had not yet passed the more general treason laws that punished Catholic priests in England or the laity who aided them (1584). Merely denying the Queen's Supremacy--unless he also declared she was a heretic or schismatic--was a felony, not an act of treason. Both were punishable by death, but the death sentence in case of a felony was simply hanging, without the cruel and unusual punishment of being cut open and butchered.

He was beatified in 1886.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Spanish Netherlands and Scherpenheuvel

Mentioning the Archduke Albert and the Spanish Netherlands in the post about composer Peter Philips the other day reminded me of our visit to Scherpenheuvel (Sharp Hill) in Belgium during the 2000 Jubilee Year. During our second visit to Belgium (work related for my husband; fun related for me), our hosts took us to the Basilica of Our Lady of Scherpenheuvel in the Flemish Brabant region of Belgium. A series of accidents led both Mark and I to the shrine--the wife of the manager of the parts distribution company located near Brussels was taking me to Scherpenheuvel; her car broke down; she called her husband and her cousin. Her husband (and my husband) left work to meet us at her cousin's house/business (he had a tow truck) to drive us on to Scherpenheuvel. On the way to her cousin's house, the brakes failed on the tow truck as we exited the highway! He had to use the handbrake.

We waited at her cousin's house for her husband--everyone spoke Flemish in the household but we did have the universal language of a silly little jack russell puppy who played fetch and tug of war. The cousin's daughter was a flight attendant on the now defunct Belgian airline, Sabena, and when she spoke English she had a perfect Midwest American accent. Mark and his contact arrived, and we went off to Scherpenheuvel. This was in the days before digital cameras when, gasp, we took pictures and then came home, took the film out of the camera and went to a store to have it developed, waited for the store to call us and then went to the store to pick up the pictures!! (I am speaking of 12 years ago, in the Dark Ages of 35 mm and APS film.) That explains why the two pictures I've posted are from the wikipedia commons on Scherpenheuvel:


And the websites for Scherpenheuvel are in Flemish, so here's a link to the wikipedia entry for the Basilica and its role as a Marian pilgrimage shrine in Belgium. The Archduke Albert whom Peter Philips served, and his wife, the Spanish Infanta Isabella (Philip II's daughter) gave funds for the establishment of the shrine, the town, and the basilica. It was a major pilgrimage site and the city that grew up around it provided all the services of lodging, restaurants, and shopping--and protections with its walls. We ate lunch, as I recall, in a big restaurant called The Golden Ram, large enough to accommodate the big pilgrimage groups during the season from May to November.

A couple of years later, I read this book about the Archbishop of Mechelen, Mathias Hovius, by Craig Harline of BYU and Eddy Put: A Bishop's Tale: Mathias Hovius Among His Flock in Seventeenth-Century Flanders (which is now out-of-print at Yale University Press). Charlotte Allen reviewed it for First Things here:
Fortunately for scholars (and for us), Hovius kept a detailed daybook of all his activities—his building projects, his ceaseless and wearying parish visits, and the endless round of petitions and disputes, on issues ranging from pornography and marriage annulments to questions of heresy—that he adjudicated in his busy ecclesiastical court. Most of the journal has been lost, but in 1987, Harline, a history professor at Brigham Young University, and Put, a Belgian archivist, discovered in a seminary library in Mechelin the last volume, covering the period from 1617 to Hovius’ death. This book is the fruit of their reconstruction of Hovius’ life from that diary and other contemporary documents.

Harline, author of the well–received Burdens of Sister Margaret: Inside a Seventeenth–Century Convent, decided to focus on Hovius for his second book as a corrective to the worthy but perhaps exaggerated preoccupation of today’s medievalists with eclectic and colorful “ordinary” Catholicism in contrast to the official kind. Harline and Put
decided that the career of a bishop would offer as good a vantage point as any for looking into the seventeenth–century social world. They thought that since “religious life was a constant negotiation among all parties rather than a simple matter of the hierarchy proclaiming and the flock obeying, then being a bishop was hardly the mundane, absolutist task it has been made out to be.”

Making one’s way as a Catholic prelate in seventeenth–century Flanders required negotiating skills and many other skills besides. To the north lay the staunchly Calvinist Dutch Republic, product of a protracted war of secession that had begun in the 1560s, when Hovius, born in 1542, was a young man. Until the Dutch formally declared their independence in 1581, more or less ending the strife, all of the Low Countries belonged to Philip II of Spain, who had inherited them from his father, the Flanders–born Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.

After the Dutch breakaway, Flanders became known as the Spanish Netherlands, an uncomfortable moniker. Even the Catholics of the Low Countries detested the dour and culturally alien Philip, who tried to reduce their once–auto­ nomous territories to a Spanish province and who introduced the Inquisition to Flanders. At the very end of his life in 1599, Philip turned the Spanish Netherlands over to his daughter Isabella and her husband, Prince Albert of Austria, and made it a quasi–independent archduchy. Isabella and Albert were popular sovereigns, and a measure of peace finally prevailed.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Two Martyrs in York on the Son Rise Morning Show

I will be on the Son Rise Morning Show at 7:45 am. Eastern/6:45 a.m. Central to discuss these two martyrs today: Blessed Marmaduke Bowes and Blessed Hugh Taylor. The most important point about these two martyrs is that they were the first to be executed under the 1584 act against the Jesuits (or any other Catholic priests) who had been born in England or Wales and then traveled to the Continent for ordination and then returned as missionaries to the recusant Catholic community, and against those who assisted them.

Blessed Marmaduke Bowes was born in Ingram Grange in Yorkshire: Married layman and father. Fearful of the persecutions of the day, he was a covert Catholic who put in appearances in the Established church to keep the authorities away. He sheltered priests on the run, and had his children raised Catholic. In 1585 his children's tutor was arrested and bribed to apostatize, turn informer, and denounce Bowes for helping priests. Bowes and his wife were arrested and imprisoned in York; she was released, but Marmaduke was convicted on the statements of the tutor.

He was the first layman executed under the law that made helping priests a felony. One of the 85 Martyrs of England, Scotland and Wales. He was hung on the 26th of November in 1585, along with Blessed Hugh Taylor, who had just arrived in York in March 1585, after his ordination in Rheims in 1584. Father Taylor was the first to suffer under the Statute 27 Eliz. c. 2. against priests as traitors passed by Parliament in 1584. Most of the Catholics executed after 1584 suffered under this statute (there were a few executed under the 1571 and 1581 statutes which made it treasonous to call the monarch a heretic or to convert or induce someone else to become Catholic, respectively). Blessed John Britton was martyred under the 1571 Statute, for example, in 1598. Blessed George Errington suffered hanging, drawing, and quartering in 1596 under the 1581 Statue, in another example, The priests who suffered before 1584 were found guilty of simple treason, which usually, as in the case of Saints Campion, Briant and Sherwin coming up on December 1, meant that the Crown accused the priests of some conspiracy against the Queen.

Blessed Marmaduke may be called a martyr in spite of himself--he had tried to maintain a public face of conformity, attending Church of England services to avoid suspicion or fines, but secretly he helped priests and raised his children in the Catholic Faith. Betrayed by a Catholic, he was arrested and charged based on evidence offered by his children's tutor.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Last Sunday of The Year: Christ the King of the Universe!

For this great Solemnity on the Liturgical Calendar, I refer you to my post this month on the site:

As a citizen of the United States, I have always heard the common comment in homilies for the Solemnity of Christ the King that we Americans don’t really understand or connect with the idea of kingship. After all, our forefathers fought a Revolutionary War to free us from the control of a king. If we think of this feast only in the context of earthly kingship, with its hereditary succession and the possibility of tyranny and despotism, we will miss the point of the Solemnity of Christ the King.

Pope Pius XI established the feast of Christ the King in his encyclical letter, Quas Primas (“In the first which”) issued on December 11, 1925. He referenced his first encyclical letter at the beginning (thus the title) and continued to address “the chief causes of the difficulties under which mankind was laboring”. The source of those difficulties? “That the majority of men had thrust Jesus Christ and his holy law out of their lives”; that they had decided Jesus and his holy law “had no place either in private affairs or in politics”.

Read the rest here.

I also refer you to my post last year, in which I asked:

I wonder what Henry VIII would have thought of a Pope establishing a feast which pointed out an authority above the King of England? Henry was a Christian, of course, with devotion to Jesus as Saviour and Redeemer; he worshipped Jesus in the Sacrament of the Altar. Would he have been able to separate his own Temporal claims to authority in England and the Pope's proclamation of Jesus's supremacy over all the world, superceding any nationalist claims? I find it interesting that the Church of England celebrates the Feast of Christ the King, but they also mark this Sunday as "Stir up Sunday". The collect for the last Sunday of the liturgical year begins with the words "Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people" and it is the day to start making the Christmas pudding!!
Here are some comments on the Anglican adoption of the Feast of Christ the King from Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford from the sermon last year:  

And if really want to be picky and Little Britain‐ish about the Feast of Christ the King you would perhaps regret that the Feast itself is of Continental and Catholic origin, inaugurated by Pope Pius XI in 1925 as a counterblast to secularism and fascism. It was meant to bring confidence to a Church that was beleaguered, and to send a signal to aspiring European politicians that the Church was still a forceful presence in society. When the Feast was adopted by the Church of England there was not in fact much controversy. Those who looked naturally towards Rome wanted to be in tune with the Roman calendar; those of more evangelical and Protestant persuasion had long been drawn by the theme of the Kingship of Christ, and the only real murmurings of liturgical dissent came from those liberal minded republicans in the Church of England who disliked the emphasis on Christ as king on grounds that it smacks of triumphalism. Something of that nervousness broke through when the Church debated the naming of this season leading up to Advent which was being called the Kingdom season. Nervousness prevailed, and though we boldly call this the Kingdom Season here at Christ Church, the liturgical books call the season From All Saints to Advent.

Oh well, the Catholic Church in the Roman Rite calls the season between Easter and Advent "Ordinary Time"--in the Novus Ordo at least (it has been the season After Pentecost on the Extraordinary Form calendar and today is the last Sunday of that season with the same Collect to get stirred up!)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Tudor Historical Novel of Conversion

According to Goodreads, "Denis Meadows was born in London and educated in England. After commencing a career in the foreign service, he fought in World War I and later settled in America. He is the author of four novels and a nonfiction work about the Catholic Church." (From what I find on-line at least, I think he wrote one novel and several historical works, including a survey of Catholic Church history, a study of Abelard and St. Bernard of Clairvaux (A Saint and a Half), and this novel, Tudor Underground.) This site adds the detail that Meadows studied with the Society of Jesus for ten years and wrote about his experiences in a 1954 book titled Obedient Men--background that certainly informs Tudor Underground, especially when the protagonist, Hugh Rampling, completes the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises.

In 1950, Kirkus Reviews commented:

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.

I take issue with the description, "a relatively pallid story of religious conversion." How can any story of religious conversion be relatively pallid? I found Meadows' novel to be intricate and complex, as much as the real decisions Catholics faced in 16th century England were. Hugh Rampling is a young nobleman who decides to give up everything for his Catholic faith--home, family, career, his chosen wife--even his sins! From working for Sir Francis Walsingham as a spy on Catholics abroad, only those Catholics who are actively betraying their queen, Elizabeth I, to helping Father Robert Persons, SJ escape capture more than once, Rampling struggles to decide which side he is really on. His decision is complicated by the fact that he is deep in Mortal Sin, committing repeated acts of adultery with an Italian noblewoman who pretends to be a devout Catholic while working to bring Catholic priests and laity to torture and to death.

Everything attractive seems to be on the side of established Church, and Rampling, like his father, conforms, attending a Church of England service and receiving communion--but does not take the Oath of Supremacy. Crucially, because of a bet he'd lost, he has to fulfill his wager: make the spiritual exercises under the guidance of Father Robert Persons. Confronted with the heights and depths of the glory of the Incarnation and the Paschal Mystery, Rampling confesses his sin and returns to the Catholic Faith.

Meadows keeps this story of conversion and adventure moving briskly, introducing the historical characters Sir Francis Walsingham, Persons, St. Edmund Campion, and St. Henry Walpole. He tells the story of Campion's Decem Rationes, its printing and distribution, his capture, and his execution, including the important detail of Walpole leaving Tyburn with blood splattered clothing. Like Persons, Rampling escapes England, but first faces torture and execution while in prison (visited by his former lover, who delights in thinking of how he will suffer), and an epilogue--which may be the weakness of the novel--looks back to tell the story of his life in exile before his return to England during the reign of James I.

I recommend Tudor Underground; it is available from many used book sources on-line.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Just Another Catholic in Exile: Composer Peter Philips

Now whirling in my CD player, this recording of works of Peter Philips, contemporary of William Byrd, "Cantiones Sacrae Quinis Vocibus". The Tudor Consort and Peter Walls performing on the Naxos Early Music label:

Peter Philips (1561-1628) stands with William Byrd (1543-1623) among the greatest composers of the Counter Reformation. These two English Catholic recusants composed sacred polyphony which is unsurpassed in sophistication and interest. Unlike Byrd, who remained in England, protected from serious legal harassment for his beliefs largely by official recognition of his remarkable gifts as a musician, Philips chose to live in exile on the continent.

Philips’ career was determined by his religious convictions. He is first heard of as a fourteen-year-old choirboy at St Paul’s in London. The person responsible for him there was Samuel Westcote, who was frequently in trouble with the authorities for his recusancy. In 1582, shortly after Westcote’s death, Philips fled England - and we are told that he did so "pour la foy Catholique". He went first to the English College at Douai where, at that very time, the Catholic English translation of the Bible, an answer to Protestant translations, was under way. (The Douai/Rheims New Testament appeared in 1582; the Old Testament was to follow in 1609). He then went on to the English College in Rome, which at that time provided refuge for a number of religious exiles. Philips remained at the English College for three years and was appointed organist. He was, therefore, in Rome at the height of Palestrina’s fame. Moreover, in 1585 Felice Anerio, Palestrina’s successor at the Papal Chapel, was appointed maestro di cappella at the English College, and so worked with Philips. Philips included music by Palestrina and Anerio in some of his own publications. In other words, he was thoroughly conversant with the riches of late-sixteenth-century Roman polyphony.

In 1585 Philips left Rome in the service of another English Catholic, Lord Thomas Paget. Together they travelled through Spain, France, and present-day Belgium. Paget died early in 1590, and Philips settled in Antwerp, where he married and "mainteyned him self by teachinge of children of the virginals being very cunning thereon". In 1593 he visited Amsterdam "to sie and heare an excellent man of his faculties" (Sweelinck). On his way back from Amsterdam, he was taken to The Hague for interrogation, on suspicion of plotting against Queen Elizabeth.

Four years later, he became a member of the household of the Archduke Albert, the regent of the Spanish Netherlands, and there he spent the rest of his working life. Thus, in this final and longest stage of his career, he illustrates quite literally the charge, made in 1630, that ‘Though all our Recusants be the King of Englands subjects, yet too many of them be the King of Spaines servants’.

Read the rest here. Thomas Paget had been the Third Baron Paget until 1589, when he was attainted of treason for supposedly plotting against Elizabeth I. His title was forfeit and he returned to Spain as an exile. Try to imagine Philips's terror at being arrested and questioned in Amsterdam--evidently he was able to present some facts that convinced Elizabethan authorities that he had not conspired against her. Becoming part of the household of the Archduke Albert provided more protection; not even exile guaranteed safety from Elizabeth I's "police state".

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Prayer for Thanksgiving

The first bishop in the United States of America (Baltimore, Maryland), later Archbishop, John Carroll wrote this prayer November 10, 1791, to be recited in parishes throughout his diocese.

We pray, Thee O Almighty and Eternal God! Who through Jesus Christ hast revealed Thy glory to all nations, to preserve the works of Thy mercy, that Thy Church, being spread through the whole world, may continue with unchanging faith in the confession of Thy Name.

We pray Thee, who alone art good and holy, to endow with heavenly knowledge, sincere zeal, and sanctity of life, our chief bishop, Pope N., the Vicar of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the government of his Church; our own bishop, N., all other bishops, prelates, and pastors of the Church; and especially those who are appointed to exercise amongst us the functions of the holy ministry, and conduct Thy people into the ways of salvation.

We pray Thee O God of might, wisdom, and justice! Through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with Thy Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the President of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness, and be eminently useful to Thy people over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality. Let the light of Thy divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government, so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety, and useful knowledge; and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty.

We pray for his excellency, the governor of this state, for the members of the assembly, for all judges, magistrates, and other officers who are appointed to guard our political welfare, that they may be enabled, by Thy powerful protection, to discharge the duties of their respective stations with honesty and ability.

We recommend likewise, to Thy unbounded mercy, all our brethren and fellow citizens throughout the United States, that they may be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the observance of Thy most holy law; that they may be preserved in union, and in that peace which the world cannot give; and after enjoying the blessings of this life, be admitted to those which are eternal.

Finally, we pray to Thee, O Lord of mercy, to remember the souls of Thy servants departed who are gone before us with the sign of faith and repose in the sleep of peace; the souls of our parents, relatives, and friends; of those who, when living, were members of this congregation, and particularly of such as are lately deceased; of all benefactors who, by their donations or legacies to this Church, witnessed their zeal for the decency of divine worship and proved their claim to our grateful and charitable remembrance. To these, O Lord, and to all that rest in Christ, grant, we beseech Thee, a place of refreshment, light, and everlasting peace, through the same Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior. Amen.

(photo credit: wikipedia)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

From The Telegraph

I like this writer's take on the status of the Church of England. Writing for The Telegraph, Pat Buchanan biographer (The Crusader: The Life and Tumultuous Times of Pat Buchanan) Timothy Stanley says:

Being cruel to Anglicans is about as low as kicking a puppy. The Anglican Church does a lot of good for a lot of people and its presence in British public life forces debates about politics and social policy to be a bit more reflective than they would otherwise be. It is also capable of profound beauty. Village churches are arks of Englishness: neatly stacked Books of Common Prayer, hard wooden pews, a perfume of human breath and burning wax, a Union Jack hung above a shrine to the fallen. I pray that the Church of England is never disestablished, for I feel about these temples in the same way that I do public libraries. I never visit them, but it brings me comfort to know that they are there.

In the 21st century, what is the purpose of the village church? For much of the establishment of the Church of England, the answer seems to be “relevance” – they must earn their status in society by reflecting society's diversity of background and opinion. The great irony is that they want to make relevant something that is actually devalued by the attempt to make it relevant. God doesn’t do “relevance.” He just is – and, for most religious consumers, that’s what makes him so appealing. . .

In its desire to be “more human,” the Anglican Church has rebelled against human nature. For it is natural to want some dimension of authority in our lives. People go to church for answers to the big questions, and it's the answers (“Love me and love thy neighbour”) that then compel them to go out in the world and build a better society. I hope the next Archbishop will break from this trend and talk more forcefully about God. He might notice a small bump in Sunday attendance.

Mr. Stanley also published an interesting analysis of the vote on female bishops:

Wow – we truly live in an age of miracles. The Church of England just voted in favour of tradition. To be precise, its Synod failed to garner the necessary two thirds majority to allow for women bishops. A majority did want change, just not a large enough one – and most of the opposition seems to have come from the laity rather than the clergy.

Nevertheless, given that the Anglican Church’s trajectory has been very liberal of late, this is a huge surprise. It’s also a blow to the leadership of the incoming Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. One of the very first things he did when picked for the job was to endorse women bishops. He obviously hoped to wrap this issue up and so inherit a more united church. Instead, he inherits all the old divisions and quarrels that poor Rowan Williams had to endure.

Expect much of the liberal establishment to be outraged. In many ways, they have a right to be. The Anglican Church has evolved into something like an unofficial branch of the welfare state, and there’s a general feeling that it has a duty to be as representative as the rest of our public sector. A vote against women bishops is certainly a pedantic vote against equality in a church that has already accepted women priests. If a woman can be a priest, why can she not make other priests priests? It seems spiteful and unfair.

But from the perspective of traditionalists and evangelicals, this was about holding the Church together through messy compromise. If women bishops had gone ahead a) opponents would have felt compelled to accept their authority and b) those women bishops would have had to confront clergy and parishioners who didn’t respect their appointment. It might have been a recipe either for further exodus or civil war. At least this way, the fudge continues for another few years. It’s all so very English.

The Church of England Says "NO" to Female Bishops

In rather surprising news, the Church of England rejected the cause of female bishops this week:

The Church of England's governing body blocked a move Tuesday to permit women to serve as bishops in a vote so close it failed to settle the question of female leadership and likely condemned the institution to years more debate on the issue.

The General Synod's daylong debate ended with the rejection of a compromise that was intended to unify the faithful despite differing views on whether women should be allowed in the hierarchy. But backers failed to gain the necessary majority by six votes.

"There is no victory in the coming days," said Rev. Angus MacLeay. "It is a train crash."

The defeat was a setback for Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who retires at the end of December, and his successor, Bishop Justin Welby. Both had strongly endorsed a proposed compromise that would have respected the decision of those who objected to the ordination of women bishops.

Instead of ending decades of debate on the issue in the church, the narrow defeat opens the church, which has around 80 million members worldwide, to further years of internal discussions. It also forms an uncomfortable backdrop to the start of Welby's leadership. He is due to be enthroned in March.

Passage of legislation to allow women to serve as bishops must be approved by two-thirds majorities in the synod's three houses: bishops, priests and laity. Some took heart in the fact that both the bishops and the clergy voted overwhelmingly in favor. But among the laity, the vote fell short, with 132-74.

On his blog, Standing on My Head, Father Dwight Longenecker provides background on the decision here and on the divisions within the Church of England here.

In the former, he notes:

The crisis in the Church of England occasioned by today’s rejection of women in the episcopate is likely to be long, drawn out and bitter. The liberals have campaigned for women bishops for twenty years. The majority of bishops and clergy voted in favor of the measure. It lost in the House of Laity by only six votes. The rest of the British people don’t understand the fuss. They’ve had women priests for twenty years in the Church of England and for most people this is simply a common sense question of equal rights for women.

. . . the negative vote may well have even more serious implications for the freedom of religion in England. If the Members of Parliament decide to over rule the General Synod there may be a constitutional crisis involving the established status of the Church of England and a crisis over religious freedom which will tumble over into serious implications for the relationship between the state and other religious bodies like the Catholic Church.

And in the latter:

The divisions between Liberal, Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical are, in many respects, only superficial and historical. The real division is between those Anglican Christians (no matter how they dress or worship) who believe that the Christian faith is a revealed religion, established by God and therefore unchanging, and those who believe the Christian religion is a human construct developed out of the circumstances of a particular historical and cultural setting.

Those who believe the Christian religion is revealed by God supernaturally also believe that the Church is essentially not of this world. They exist in this world to challenge the ways of this world. They are not supposed to be conformed to the world, but to be transformed. Those who believe that the Christian religion is revealed by God for the eternal salvation of souls see this world as needing repentance and forgiveness and salvation. They don’t mind if the world rejects them. They expect that. When asked to compromise the faith and change the faith to adapt to the world they assume the martyr’s stance. “Offer incense to idols? Bring on the roaring lions, the coliseum and the crowds.”

The second category of Christian are those who believe the religion is a human construct. They think it is the result of certain historical and cultural conditions and accidents. As it was produced by a cultural context, so Christianity has always adapted to the culture in which it finds itself. They see this as a good thing. This is their method of evangelization. They follow the lead of the current cultural climate because they see that as the way of being relevant and connecting with the people in their culture. They do not view the world as full of souls to be saved so much as a wayward child that needs educating and a little bit of discipline in order to reach his full potential. Christianity is for them, a method of personal growth and a system for societal change. It is for them more of an ideology than a theology.

The clash therefore is between those who believe the Christian religion is revealed and those who think it is relative.

Father Longenecker sent me a copy of his new book, Catholicism Plain and Simple for my review, an I'll post it here, of course. I already love the cover, with one of Rembrandt's portraits of Jesus. Looks like perfect reading for the Year of Faith. From the Introduction:

This book presents the basics of the Catholic faith in simple, straightforward language. You will not find here complex philosophical arguments, insider churchy talk or complicated theological language. I have avoided hi-falutin' references and obscure quotations. There aren't any academic notes or quotes in Greek, Latin and Aramaic. This is meat and potatoes religion. This book does not answer all the questions or make all the arguments. It simply starts by explaining why we believe God exists, and then goes on, step by step to explain who Jesus Christ is, what his life and death mean and how the Catholic Church came about. It explains what it means to be a Catholic and how one lives the Catholic faith. This book is an excellent text book for someone who is in RCIA or confirmation class. It also provides an excellent back-up and refresher course for Catholics to know their faith better.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Liberal Arts and Campus Censorship

These two articles piqued my interest, because I was a liberal arts major (English and History) and then went on for an MA in English Literature too. I still look back to my years in college as a time of learning, discussing, and experiencing the thrill of discovering knowledge and truth. Bradley Birzer writes about Christopher Dawson's early/mid-twentieth century concern about the decline not just of the liberal arts as a discipline but of "the significance, love, and cultivation of ideas and respect for the faculty of imagination":

One of the greatest Catholic intellects and writers of the twentieth century, Christopher Dawson (1889-1970), worried deeply about the ideological, political, and cultural crises of the western world during the entirety of his adult life. The root of the problem, Dawson had come to believe between the two world wars, was the fundamental decline in the significance, love, and cultivation of ideas and respect for the faculty of imagination.

For nearly a century, Dawson feared, the western world had, in all of its technological and scientific “progress” simplified its understanding of the immense complexities of man. The great intellects of the nineteenth century—men such as Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, and Sigmund Freud—had narrowed the understandings of what motivates a man, be it economics, biological adaptation, or misunderstood sexual longings at a young age. While any one of these things might be true, it is far more likely that each is true, along with millions of other complicated and complicating factors. Man, Dawson knew, could not be understood in merely simplistic, materialist terms. By his very nature of bearing the infinite Imago Dei, finite man carried a uniqueness within him that was genuine and irreplaceable, no matter how hidden such gifts might be to the person himself.

When Dawson saw this narrowing view of humanity force the individual into a homogenized mass of regulation and conformity, he determined that a revival of the liberal arts was necessary because it reverses the "centralizing, collectivizing, and mechanizing" of the human person with imagination and humility:

The liberal arts must also embrace and engage, at a fundamental level, the faculty of imagination. Only the latter would prevent the narrowing decay of an understanding of the world and the human person. Indeed, the imagination should not only allow a person to place himself within the created order and realize his relations with God and other men (a play on the classic definition of justice, to “give each man his due”), but it should also reveal to the human person just how extraordinarily complicated the world is. Consequently, the liberal arts humble and elevate the human person simultaneously, connecting a person to both time and eternity.

During the sixteen years prior to a series of strokes that forced Dawson into retirement, the English Roman Catholic offered a number of suggestions as to how to revive the liberal arts. He developed a four-year curriculum for Catholic Colleges, began to edit a series of works on the lives of the saints (the real movers of history, from Dawson’s perspective), and the formation of a new religious order dedicated to the Christian intellect. Unfortunately, poor health, poor administration skills, and poor fund-raising abilities hindered Dawson in each of these efforts.

Nevertheless, Dawson was on the right track, I think, and was an heir to Newman's vision of a university as a great "place of concourse", where ideas can be debated and excellence may thrive (see my emphasis):

a University is a place of concourse, whither students come from every quarter for every kind of knowledge. You cannot have the best of every kind everywhere; you must go to some great city or emporium for it. There you have all the choicest productions of nature and art all together, which you find each in its own separate place elsewhere. All the riches of the land, and of the earth, are carried up thither; there are the best markets, and there the best workmen. It is the centre of trade, the supreme court of fashion, the umpire of rival talents, and the standard of things rare and precious. It is the place for seeing galleries of first-rate pictures, and for hearing wonderful voices and performers of transcendent skill. It is the place for great preachers, great orators, great nobles, great statesmen. In the nature of things, greatness and unity go together; excellence implies a centre. And such, for the third or fourth time, is a University; I hope I do not weary out the reader by repeating it. It is the place to which a thousand schools make contributions; in which the intellect may safely range and speculate, sure to find its equal in some antagonist activity, and its judge in the tribunal of truth. It is a place where inquiry is pushed forward, and discoveries verified and perfected, and rashness rendered innocuous, and error exposed, by the collision of mind with mind, and knowledge with knowledge. It is the place where the professor becomes eloquent, and is a missionary and a preacher, displaying his science in its most complete and most winning form, pouring it forth with the zeal of enthusiasm, and lighting up his own love of it in the breasts of his hearers. It is the place where the catechist makes good his ground as he goes, treading in the truth day by day into the ready memory, and wedging and tightening it into the expanding reason. It is a place which wins the admiration of the young by its celebrity, kindles the affections of the middle - aged by its beauty, and rivets the fidelity of the old by its associations. It is a seat of wisdom, a light of the world, a minister of the faith, an Alma Mater of the rising generation. It is this and a great deal more, and demands a somewhat better head and hand than mine to describe it well.

But sadly, this article in The Wall Street Journal demonstrates that universities do not always allow their students' intellects to "safely range and speculate" because their administrations emphasize "safely" I suppose:

"The people who believe that colleges and universities are places where we want less freedom of speech have won," Mr. Lukianoff says. "If anything, there should be even greater freedom of speech on college campuses. But now things have been turned around to give campus communities the expectation that if someone's feelings are hurt by something that is said, the university will protect that person. As soon as you allow something as vague as Big Brother protecting your feelings, anything and everything can be punished."

You might say Greg Lukianoff was born to fight college censorship. With his unruly red hair and a voice given to booming, he certainly looks and sounds the part. His ethnically Irish, British-born mother moved to America during the 1960s British-nanny fad, while his Russian father came from Yugoslavia to study at the University of Wisconsin. Russian history, Mr. Lukianoff says, "taught me about the worst things that can happen with good intentions."

And there's a book about those "worst thing"s:

In his new book, "Unlearning Liberty," Mr. Lukianoff notes that baby-boom Americans who remember the student protests of the 1960s tend to assume that U.S. colleges are still some of the freest places on earth. But that idealized university no longer exists. It was wiped out in the 1990s by administrators, diversity hustlers and liability-management professionals, who were often abetted by professors committed to political agendas.

"What's disappointing and rightfully scorned," Mr. Lukianoff says, "is that in some cases the very professors who were benefiting from the free-speech movement turned around to advocate speech codes and speech zones in the 1980s and '90s."

Today, university bureaucrats suppress debate with anti-harassment policies that function as de facto speech codes. FIRE maintains a database of such policies on its website, and Mr. Lukianoff's book offers an eye-opening sampling. What they share is a view of "harassment" so broad and so removed from its legal definition that, Mr. Lukianoff says, "literally every student on campus is already guilty."

More about Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate here. One of the most ridiculous cases of a university administration going after student was at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis in 2008: because the student/worker was reading a book titled Notre Dame versus The Klan he was accused and found guilty of racial harassment based on another student/worker referring to the cover of the book! (It offended him because he thought it was a book supporting the KKK.) According to Mr. Lukianoff, the university said that the student, reading a book about "How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan" was guilty of racial harassment for "openly reading the book related to a historically and racially abhorrent subject." (Perhaps this university won't show Steven Spielberg's movie Lincoln, because students would be openingly watching a movie related to "a historically and racially abhorrent subject"!--slavery) The university finally backed down, apologized to the student, and cleared his record--but it took FIVE (5) months!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Edmund Vaughan, Translator

Yesterday at Mass we sang this hymn, "O God of Loveliness":

O God of loveliness, O Lord of Heaven above,
How worthy to possess my heart’s devoted love.
So sweet Thy countenance, so gracious to behold
That one, one only glance to me were bliss untold.

Thou art blest Three in One, yet undivided still,
Thou art the One alone, whose love my heart can fill.
The heav’ns and earth below were fashioned by Thy Word,
How amiable art Thou, my ever dearest Lord.

To think Thou art my God—O thought forever blest!
My heart has overflowed with joy within my breast.
My soul so full of bliss, is plunged as in a sea,
Deep in the sweet abyss of holy charity.

O Loveliness supreme, and Beauty infinite,
O ever flowing Stream and Ocean of delight,
O Life by which I live, my truest Life above,
To Thee alone I give my undivided love.

The hymn was originally written in Italian by St. Alphonsus Liguori and I noted the translator had a familiar last name: Edmund Vaughan (reminded me of Henry Vaughan, one of the Metaphysical Poets and Herbert Vaughan, the third Archbishop of Westminster, succeeding Henry Manning). According to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Edmund Vaughan (1827-1908) was a:

Catholic priest, [. . .] born at Courtfield, Herefordshire, England, son of William Vaughan and his wife Theresa, daughter of Thomas Weld of Lulworth Castle, Dorset. He was the uncle of Archbishop Roger Vaughan [Archbishop of Sydney, 1877-1883] and related to Governor Sir Frederick Weld [Premier and Governor in New Zealand]. Educated at Stonyhurst College, he taught science for a few years at St Mary's College, Oscott near Birmingham, before preparing for the priesthood. He was in deacon's orders when he applied for admission to the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, known as the Redemptorists, and spent his year of initiation at St Trond near Liège, Belgium; in 1852 he took his religious vows and was ordained priest. He devoted himself to popular preaching, the principal work for which St Alphonsus Liguori had founded the Order. Quickly showing his aptitude for work among all classes and as a kindly superior, in 1867 he introduced the Redemptorists into Scotland, his foundation at Perth being the first Catholic monastery there since the Reformation.

Bishop James Murray of Maitland, New South Wales, arranged for a Redemptorist community in his diocese, and in 1882 Vaughan, as superior, with four priests and two Brothers took up residence at Singleton. They used the summer for campaigns in New Zealand, leaving the preachers free for the rest of the year to meet the requests that came from all the eastern colonies. The inconvenience of Singleton and the burden of parish duties led in 1887 to the community being established at Waratah near Newcastle. Next year a new foundation was made at Ballarat; by 1894 the Redemptorists had conducted missions in every diocese from Cooktown to Adelaide.

When Archbishop Vaughan died suddenly in 1883, Fr Edmund was told confidentially that cardinals Manning and Howard were negotiating to have him named archbishop of Sydney. Although his candidature remained unknown, expressions of partisanship in the Australian press and strong feeling against English superiors made Vaughan's position uncomfortable. His letters showed his awareness of the intensely Irish sentiment of most Australian Catholics. Although he rarely experienced any personal animosity, he insisted that it seemed necessary that ecclesiastical offices in Australia be held by Irishmen; but he readily encouraged Australian candidates for the priesthood and urged his superiors to disregard the contrary arguments of the Irish bishops.

Recalled to England in 1894, Vaughan became English provincial, the major superior of Redemptorists in England, Ireland and Australia. He negotiated the establishment of a separate province in Ireland to assume responsibility for the Australian houses. Aged 80 he died of heart disease and congestion of the liver on 1 July 1908 at Bishop Eton, Liverpool.

He translated at least two other hymns of  his order's founder: "O bread of heaven, beneath this veil" and "O Mother blest, whom God bestows", and composed his own verses. You'll notice that Father Vaughan was raised and educated deeply in the former Recusant community of England after being born two years before Emancipation in 1829--educated at Stonyhurst; teaching at St. Mary's College.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Chilly Morning on the Mount

It was a chilly morning in October when we visited Sacre Coeur and Montmartre, via the Metro and the Funiculaire after walking up crowded Rue Steinkerque. Once at Park Willette, the Basilica loomed beatifully above us against the bright blue sky:

The merry-go-round and souvenir hawkers were already very busy. As we walked up the first level to Sacre Coeur, we saw the young men hawking little trinkets prepare for the next wave of tourists. We also saw a tour guide instructing her group on the significance of the basilica and its construction. They left the park and went on to the next tourist spot--inside Sacre Coeur the focus is on prayer and adoration--signs instruct visitors not to take pictures, not to disturb those praying before the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance above the high altar, and for men to take off their hats. Ushers stand to enforce these rules!

Descending from the park, we waited for the funiculaire and then mounted the last steps up the parvis of Sacre Coeur. Before we went inside, I took some pictures of the statues on the facade of the church:

St. Joan of Arc:

St. Louis:

And the Sacred Heart of Jesus:

These banners proclaimed the Year of Faith and quoted Blessed John Paul II:

Inside, after praying before the Blessed Sacrament, I did sneak a couple of pictures:

(This is a chapel with displays about St. Therese of Lisieux--we saw an emphasis on her in many of the churches we visited this trip.)
At the gift shop, I purchased these two chaplets with medals commemorating the 125 years of Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at Sacre Coeur (and took this picture later that day back at our hotel room):

As this website reminds us:

The site of the 19th-century basilica is traditionally associated with the beheading of the city's patron, Saint Denis, in the 3rd century. According to legend, after he was martyred, Bishop Denis picked up his severed head and carried it several miles to the north, where the suburb of Saint-Denis stands today.

After France's 1870 defeat by the Prussians in the Franco-Prussian War and its aftermath, the Commune of 1871, the basilica was planned as a guilt offering and a vote of confidence to cure France's misfortunes.

The church was dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a cult that gained popularity after 1873, when the first pilgrimage was organized to Paray-le-Monial in Burgundy. It was there that revelations encouraging prayer to Christ's sacred heart had been reported in the 17th century.

The foundation stone of the Basilique Sacré-Coeur was laid in 1875. It was consecrated in 1891, fully completed in 1914, and elevated to the status of a basilica in 1919, after the end of the First World War.

The Sacré-Coeur was paid for by national subscription, and its iconography is distinctly nationalistic. It has much in common, both historically and architecturally, with the Basilica Notre-Dame de Fourviere in Lyon.

Designed by Paul Abadie in a Romanesque-Byzantine architectural style, the Sacré-Coeur was inspired by St-Front in Perigueux (Dordogne), a multi-domed Romanesque church the architect had recently restored.

The triple-arched portico is surmounted by two bronze equestrian statues of France's national saints, Joan of Arc and King Saint Louis IX, designed by Hippolyte Lefebvre.

The Sacré-Coeur Basilica is built of Château-Landon (Seine-et-Marne) stone, a frost-resistant travertine that bleaches with age to a gleaming white.

The apse mosaic, designed by Luc-Olivier Merson (1922), is the largest in the world. It depicts Christ in Majesty and The Sacred Heart worshiped by the Virgin Mary, Joan of Arc and St. Michael the Archangel.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Bond, Recusant Bond?

The new James Bond movie has revealed something about Her Majesty's secret agent--something very secret: he is a descendant of Catholic Recusants and/or Jacobites in Scotland! According to this site:

It turns out that “Skyfall” is the name of the Bond family seat, a gothic estate in the remote Scottish countryside. The climax of the story takes place there and that’s where the recusant reveal happens. [A priest hole plays a role--a priest hole in an estate in Scotland was probably built to shelter priests during the Jacobite era, or earlier while the Covenanters and Cromwell were in charge.]

A Facebook friend alerted me to the blog “Roman Christendom” which details in a post from 2009 that the author of the James Bond series, Ian Fleming, either consciously or unconsciously, associated the Bond character with the Bonds of Dorset, a recusant Catholic family. The post is really worth a read. There is another Catholic link to the Bond mythology that came to me via Facebook. Joanne McPortland who writes the always insightful and interesting “Egregious Twaddle”, told me about one of the real historical figures that inspired Fleming’s James Bond was a real life spy by the name of Sidney Reilly, who at one time courted the Catholic mystic Caryll Houselander . If you have never heard of or read Houselander’s literary corpus you are missing out on some of the best spiritual writing of the last century.

It is hard to think of Caryll Houselander as a “Bond Girl”, but truth is stranger than fiction- and at least in terms of what seems to be the Catholic connection to James Bond, somewhat more interesting.

Caryll Houselander, like St. Hildegard of Bingen, was a visionary: she had vivid experiences of seeing Christ in the world and even had a vision of Sidney Reilly suffering in a Russian prison. She had loved Reilly but he had married sometone else--his story was told in the BBC miniseries, Reilly: Ace of Spies in 1983.

The Telegraph in the UK noted the Dorset Bond connection in 2008, but that story emphasizes the Dorset Bonds ties to the Protestant establishment:

A diary has come to light detailing the exploits of John Bond, an Elizabethan secret agent whose family motto is "Non Sufficit Orbis" - The World Is Not Enough.

The Bond family are based in the Isle of Purbeck, Dorset, where Fleming went to prep school.

It was here, at the Durnford School, that he first started hearing Boy's Own stories that inspired his most famous creation.

Experts believe he would have picked up the legendary tales of John Bond whose family are extremely well known in the area.

The journal, which has remained in the family but has previously been unseen in public, was written by Denis Bond, John Bond's son.

Written retrospectively, it tells how his father was a spy for the Queen who assisted Sir Francis Drake on many missions, including the 1586 raid on the Azores, which Spain had just bought from Portugal.

It is believed that he first saw the motto - belonging to King Philip II of Spain - during that mission, and adopted it for his own family to begin with as a bit of a joke.

Mr Fleming is known to have used places and people he grew up around as inspiration for characters in his James Bond novels.

Though he would not have seen the diary, he may well have heard tales of how Bond led a similar life to 007 by travelling far and wide on behalf of Queen and country, although some of his methods though might not be approved by his fictional namesake.

An entry from 1573 tells how John Bond escaped the Bartholomew's Day massacre in France by taking a woman and child hostage and threatening to kill them unless he was allowed to go free.

William Bond, the current head of the family, said he believed John Bond adopted the motto "the world is not enough" - later the title of a Bond film - as a joke at the expense of the Spanish monarch.

The Roman Christendom post cited above mentions Hulme Priory as the country seat of the Recusant Bonds of Dorset, but I believe this refers to HOLME Priory, which was a Cluniac priory in Wareham, Dorset, suppressed in 1539. I do not find on-line sources for a Catholic connection--again, rather, it seems these Bonds were firmly tied to the Church of England:

When Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries, Holme was first granted to Richard Hamper, then held briefly by the Duke of Somerset until his downfall in 1552, when it passed to the Hannam family of Wimborne Minster with whom it remained until sold to Denis Bond of Grange in the Parish of Steeple in 1722. He bequeathed it to his nephew, Nathaniel Bond, who built Priory House on the site of the monastery. On his death, it passed to the Rt. Hon. Nathaniel Bond KC, a successful barrister and Treasurer of the Inner Temple, who defended author Jane Austen's aunt on a charge of shop-lifting.

Holme Priory continued in the Bond family for several generations, but is perhaps most closely associated with Lady Selina Jane Scott, a daughter of the 2nd Earl of Eldon and great granddaughter of John Scott, first Earl of Eldon who served as Lord Chancellor for a record 25 years. She married a later Nathaniel Bond in 1864 and they set up home at Holme Priory where they enjoyed a brief but happy family life together blessed with eleven surviving children. In 1865 her husband paid John Hicks to build a new parish church dedicated to St. John the Evangelist, as the ancient priory church had fallen into ruin in the mid-1700s and since then the local residents had had to go the neighbouring parish of East Stoke for their religious ceremonies and services. Lady Selina decorated the whitewashed interior of the Church herself with delicate hand-painted leafy scrolls and texts.

The aforementioned post also mentions the recusant Weld family of Lulworth Castle, which contains a Catholic chapel built in 1786, "although it wasn’t until 1791 that Catholics were, by law, allowed public worship services in England. The king at the time, George III, gave permission to Thomas Weld to build a mausoleum and do whatever he wished with the interior. The chapel was the first free-standing Catholic one built for public worship in England since the time of the reformation. North America’s first bishop, John Carroll, was consecrated at the chapel in 1790.

"The chapel interior was designed to resemble a classical garden building. The painted ceiling is domed with clear glass windows. The organ was made in Bristol in 1785, while the candlesticks, altar, and crucifix came from Rome. Inside the chapel are Weld family hatchments, vestments, and church silver."

The Weld family was a true recusant family; the "castle" today has been rebuilt and is a tourist attraction. The Weld family descendants also built a manor house after the castle was destroyed in a fire in 1929. Note one more historical connection at Lulworth: the Bourbons (Charles X as Comte Artois) in exile after the French Revolution lived at Lulworth Castle--and also that Maria Fitzherbert, George IV's secret Catholic wife, was married to Edward Weld for three months in 1775!

Another View of St. Hildegard of Bingen

From Crisis Magazine, by Brennan Pursell, author of History in His Hands:

St. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) is a wonder of the past, a historical phenomenon in her own right, and a direct challenge to all who bother to learn about her and from her now in the twenty-first century. In short, Hildegard’s life and writings pose a stark question: did God speak through this woman, not only to people of her day but to all mankind for all time, or was she one very sick woman?

Hildegard spent almost the whole of her long life in the valley of the Rhine, near where the River Main flows into it. The middle Rhineland valley is one of the most fertile parts of Germany, with a mild, temperate climate, where people have lived in communities for millennia. The Rhine forms a natural highway from its origins in the Alpen lands to its mouth in the English Channel and North Sea. The paradox of Hildegard’s life is that she was a solitary, contemplative soul, living on a major highway, so to speak, where she became the center of attention. . . .

Hildegard’s life changed radically when she was forty-two. She had the most powerful vision yet, one not just of lights and images, but of inspiration, of understanding, an infusion of knowledge about the meaning of Scripture and the whole content of the faith. She also received the command to write down what she learned. Feeling unequal to the task, Hildegard fell gravely ill. Volmar told her to write, and the abbot of the adjacent monastery concurred. Her illness lifted, and she began to write of what she had seen, in Latin, which she had not learned very well, working with Volmar, who assisted her for the next thirty years. Her first and greatest work, Scivias, tells in three books of God and all of his creation, of redemption, the Church, and the devil, and finally about the whole history of salvation. First the abbot read portions of it, then the archbishop of Mainz, then St. Bernard of Clairvaux and the Pope himself, Eugenius (1145-1153), who read her writings himself out loud to a synod held in the German city of Trier. The word was out. A true prophetess lived on the Rhine. Hildegard’s solitude, as limited as it had been, was over. . . .

Read the rest here.