Thursday, February 28, 2013

Van Cliburn and Memory

Van Cliburn is dead. He won the great International Tchaikovsky Competition the year I was born, and I do remember that my parents had a copy of his RCA Victor album playing Tchaikovsky's Concerto No. 1--"Living Stereo" on their cabinet record player. This album was mixed in with soundtracks--Ben Hur, The Sound of Music, South Pacific, Camelot, etc.; jazz--Stan Kenton, Dave Brubeck; various pop instrumentalists and bands--Percy Faith, Mantovani, Herb Albert, Ferrante and Teicher, and others. There were some other classicial albums, like collections of Strauss waltzes, and lots of Christmas albums with big classical orchestras and conductors, Eugene Ormandy and Leonard Bernstein.

That our household had a copy of this Van Cliburn album is not surprising. This was the first classical album to go platinum. Cliburn was one of the first American classical artists to have a real popular following. His obits commonly cite Time magazine’s 1958 cover story, which 'quoted a friend as saying Cliburn could become “the first man in history to be a Horowitz, Liberace and Presley all rolled into one.”' A ticker-tape parade for a pianist!

As the AP obit begins:

FORT WORTH, Texas — For a time in Cold War America, Van Cliburn had all the trappings of a rock star: sold-out concerts, adoring, out-of-control fans and a name recognized worldwide. He even got a ticker-tape parade in New York City.

And he did it all with only a piano and some Tchaikovsky concertos.

The celebrated pianist played for every American president since Harry Truman, plus royalty and heads of state around the world. But he is best remembered for winning a 1958 piano competition in Moscow that helped thaw the icy rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Cliburn, who died Wednesday at 78 after fighting bone cancer, was “a great humanitarian and a brilliant musician whose light will continue to shine through his extraordinary legacy,” said his publicist and longtime friend Mary Lou Falcone. “He will be missed by all who knew and admired him, and by countless people he never met.”

The young man from the small east Texas town of Kilgore was a baby-faced 23-year-old when he won the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow just six months after the Soviets’ launch of Sputnik embarrassed the U.S. and inaugurated the space race.

The interesting thing about his career is that, although he went from triumph to triumph for a time, he also took time away from touring to take care of his mother. The world of classical music and performance has always fascinated me, as it combines showmanship and tremendous knowledge. Anyone who dedicates his life to studying the great repertoire of Western classical music, understanding the people and the culture that created it -- that's a special person. May he rest in peace.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Execution of Anne Line and Companions, February 27, 1601

I will be on the Son Rise Morning Show this morning (7:45 a.m. EST/6:45 a.m. CST) to discuss today's martyrs and the scene at Tyburn on Feburary 27, 1601, when St. Anne Line was hung and then Blessed Mark Barkworth, OSB and Blessed Roger Filcock were hung, drawn, and quartered. You can listen live here online if you don't have an EWTN radio station in your area.

Anne Heigham Line was a convert to Catholicism; she and her brother William Heigham were disinherited and disowned by their Calvinist father. In 1586 she married Roger Line, another disinherited convert. Not long after Anne and Roger married, he and William were arrested for attending Mass and were exiled from England. Roger lived in Flanders and died in 1594.

Father John Gerard SJ, author of the famous book Autobiography of an Elizabethan Priest, asked Anne to manage two different safe houses for Jesuits, even though she was ill, but because she was destitute, surviving on teaching and sewing. She was arrested on the Feast of the Presentation, February 2, 1601, when Father Francis Page was celebrating Mass; he escaped with her help. She was tried on February 26, carried to court in a chair, where she admitted joyfully that she had helped Father Page escape and only regretted that she had not been able to help even more priests escape!

She was hung at Tyburn in London on February 27 and repeated her statement from court before her execution: "I am sentenced to die for harboring a Catholic priest, and so far I am from repenting for having so done, that I wish, with all my soul, that where I have entertained one, I could have entertained a thousand." Two priests, Father Roger Filcock and Father Mark Barkworth, paid tribute to her before their own executions, drawn, hung, and quartered. Father Filcock kissed her dead hand and the hem of her dress as she still hung from the gibbet and proclaimed, “You have gotten the start of us, sister, but we will follow you as quickly as we may.”

Blessed Mark Barkworth OSB was born about 1572 at Searby in Lincolnshire. He studied for a time at Oxford, though no record remains of his stay there. He was received into the Catholic Church at Douai in 1593, by Father George, a Flemish Jesuit and entered the College there with a view to the priesthood. He matriculated at Douai University on 5 October 1594.

On account of an outbreak of the plague, in 1596 Barkworth was sent to Rome and thence to Valladolid in Spain, where he entered the English College on 28 December 1596. On his way to Spain he is said to have had a vision of St Benedict, who told him he would die a martyr, in the Benedictine habit. While at Valladolid he make firmer contact with to the Benedictine Order. The "Catholic Encyclopedia" notes that there are accounts that his interest in the Benedictines resulted in suffering at the hands of the College superiors, but the Encyclopedia expresses scepticism, suggesting anti-Jesuit bias.

Barkworth was ordained priest at the English College some time before July 1599, when he set out for the English Mission together with Father Thomas Garnet. On his way he stayed at the Benedictine Monastery of Hyrache in Navarre, where his wish to join the order was granted by his being made an Oblate with the privilege of making profession at the hour of death.

After having escaped from the hands of the Huguenots of La Rochelle, he was arrested on reaching England and thrown into Newgate, where he was imprisoned for six months, and was then transferred to Bridewell. There he wrote an appeal to Robert Cecil, signed "George Barkworth". At his examinations he was reported to behave with fearlessness and frank gaiety. Having been condemned with a formal jury verdict, he was thrown into "Limbo", the horrible underground dungeon at Newgate, where he is said to have remained "very cheerful" till his death.

Barkworth was executed at Tyburn with Jesuit Roger Filcock and Anne Line, on 27 February 1601. He sang, on the way to Tyburn, the Paschal Anthem: "Hæc dies quam, fecit Dominus exultemus et lætemur in ea", and Father Filcock joined him in the chant:

Hæc dies quam fecit Dominus; [This is the day which the Lord has made:]
exsultemus, et lætemur in ea. [let us be glad and rejoice in it.]

At Tyburn he told the people: "I am come here to die, being a Catholic, a priest, and a religious man, belonging to the Order of St Benedict; it was by this same order that England was converted."

He was said to be "a man of stature tall and well proportioned showing strength, the hair of his head brown, his beard yellow, somewhat heavy eyed". He was of a cheerful disposition. He suffered in the Benedictine habit, under which he wore a hair-shirt. It was noticed that his knees were, like St. James', hardened by constant kneeling, and an apprentice in the crowd picking up his legs, after the quartering, called out: "Which of you Gospellers can show such a knee?" Contrary to usual practice, the quarters of the priests were not exposed but buried near the scaffold. They were later retrieved by Catholics. Barkworth was beatified by Pope Pius XI on 15 December 1929.

Blessed Roger Filcock (1570-1601) was arrested in England while he was fulfilling a probationary period prior to entering the Jesuits. He had studied at the English College in Rheims, France and then in Valladolid, Spain, but when he asked to join the Society he was encouraged to apply again after ministering for awhile in England.

His journey into England was difficult enough. The ship he was traveling on from Bilbao, Spain to Calais, France, was becalmed just outside the port and fell pray to a Dutch ship blockading the harbor. Filcock was captured, but managed to escape and land surreptitiously on the shore in Kent in 1598. Soon after he began his ministry, he contacted Father Henry Garnet, the Jesuit superior, asking to become a Jesuit. He was accepted into the Society in 1600, but then was betrayed by someone he had studied with in Spain. He was arrested and committed to Newgate Prison in London. His trial did not last long, despite the fact that there was no evidence against him and that the names in the indictment were not names he had used. Together with Father Mark Barkworth, a Benedictine, he was tied to a hurdle and dragged through the streets to Tyburn. Barkworth was first to be hung, disembowelled and quartered. Filcock had to watch his companion suffer, knowing that he would immediately follow. Pope John Paul II beatified him, on the 22nd of November 1987.

St. Anne Line was among the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970. She, St. Margaret Clitherow and St. Margaret Ward share a separate Feast on August 30 (the date of St. Margaret Ward's martyrdom in 1588) in the dioceses of England.

The Catholic Martyrs of England Pilgrimage will visit Tyburn and the Tyburn Convent the day before we return to the USA.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Poem from Hilaire Belloc

The Lent issue of the Laudamus Te Magazine of the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Liturgy of the Roman Rite, features this poem by Hilaire Belloc:

Our Lord and Our Lady

They warned Our Lady for the Child
That was Our Blessed Lord,
And She took Him into the desert wild,
Over the camel's ford.

And a long song She sang to Him
And a short story told:
And she wrapped Him in a woollen cloak
To keep Him from the cold.

But when Our Lord was grown a man
The rich they dragged Him down,
And they crucified Him in Golgotha,
Out and beyond the town.

They crucified Him on Calvary,
Upon an April day;
And because He had been Her little Son
She followed Him all the way.

Our Lady stood beside the Cross,
A little space apart,
And when She heard Our Lord cry out
A sword went through her heart.

They laid Our Lord in a marble tomb,
Dead, in a winding sheet.
But Our Lady stands above the world
With the white moon at her feet.

Laudamus Te needs some help to stay in production and sent out a notice about subscriptions and delays: if you appreciate the beauty and reverence of the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Liturgy of the Roman Rite, you might consider a subscription. The publishers are bravely doing something beautiful in support of the traditional Latin Mass, answering Pope Benedict XVI's call for its renewal:

For this reason we will be taking a break in production. You will receive a Holy Week/Easter Week issue and then not another issue until this summer. We must catch up with propers editing or Laudamus Te magazine will fail. Your subscription will stay intact and resume when we resume. You will still receive the same number of issues that you subscribed to receive. We are very sorry to have to take this measure, but feel we have no choice until we get a little ahead. We hope you will stick with us as we work to catch up!
We are struggling to attract subscriptions as well. So far we have about 750 subscribers, but we need several thousand. With every penny going toward production, printing, and mailing costs, we have no budget for advertising. A very kind individual stepped in temporarily to purchase ads for Laudamus Te, but we cannot rely upon this kind of generosity alone.

So, we are launching a subscription campaign. If everyone now receiving Laudamus Te were to attract just two new subscribers, our production costs per copy would drop dramatically and the extra money would provide a much-needed funding cushion. We love this magazine as much as you do and are committed to its success. Will you help? Please tell your friends about the magazine and let us know if you would be willing to pass out flyers at your parish. Many of you have paid for gift subscriptions and made donations, and we very much appreciate your help. Please also keep us in your prayers.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Why Use Latin When the Liturgy is in English?

I have this on order from

Where late the sweet birds sang: Latin Music from Tudor England by Magnificat directed by Philip Cave frrom Linn Records

Per the "liner" notes, Magnificat is exploring a little mystery--why was church music written to Latin texts when the official liturgical language was English? Of course, Latin was still an important diplomatic and scholarly language in the sixteenth century, but music for the Church of England's Book of Common Prayer should have been set for English texts.

The early Elizabethan years present a fascinating period of stylistic transition in vocal music to sacred Latin texts, as well as posing some intriguing questions about context. For whom was this Latin music written, given that one of the first pieces of legislation in the new Queen's reign was the Act of Uniformity, which specified that church services should be held in English rather than in Latin, in all but a few places? And what was the practical impact of the new religious laws on composers such as Thomas Tallis, Robert Parsons, Robert White and William Byrd?

While Byrd's lifelong commitment to the Catholic faith is well documented, little is known for certain about the religious convictions of the other composers. The debate continues on whether they favoured Latin texts because they were writing for institutions where some of these texts were still permitted, because they retained loyalty to the Catholic faith, alternatively that they had in mind domestic or devotional music-making, or simply because they had an enduring affection for the old ways. Whatever its intended destination, the music's structure shows a move away from the ritual plainchant cantus firmus-based hymns and responds of Mary's chapel towards freely composed imitative polyphony in which text and music are much more closely connected. It seems to have taken noticeably longer for composers of English-texted sacred music to move on from the artistic constraints of Edwardian Protestantism to produce works of comparable musical interest (though there are, of course, a few notable exceptions to this generalisation, such as Tallis's miniature masterpiece "If ye love me"). 

We are lucky to have this music and to have Magnificat record it:

Much of the music presented here is known to us not through sources compiled for use in church - hardly any have survived - but because it was included in one or other of the largely retrospective manuscript collections now in the library of Christ Church, Oxford, assembled by Robert Dow (Mss.984-88, c.1581 - 88) and John Baldwin (Mss.979-83, c.1575 - 81). Although dating individual works with certainty is rarely possible, most of the music chosen for this recording is thought to come from the 1560s and 70s. . . .

Considering and compiling this recording is something that has occupied my thoughts over several years. Both in content and performing style it represents the fruits of a personal journey that started at a time when most of this music was not at all widely known. None of us dared to dream then that it could ever be shared with the thousands of people who have now come to value it. Time moves on, and witnessing that positive progress gives cause for some satisfaction.

Overall, the mini-trend of performing groups like the Tallis Scholars, Stille Antico, Magnificat, The Tudor Consort, The Byrd Ensemble, and others, reflecting on the religious conflict during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is fascinating to me.

You might notice the Shakespearean reference in the CD title:

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed, whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourish'd by.
This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well, which thou must leave ere long.

Eamon Duffy parsed that line, "Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang" to identify William Shakespeare with a sort of nostaglia for the monasteries and lost Catholic culture, in his book Saints, Sacrilege, and Sedition last year. This reviewer Professor David J. Davis, thinks it too much a throwaway:

Finally, the chapter, almost whimsically, speculates about the bard himself, seeking to include him in this expanding cabal of conservative voices. Despite Duffy's disclaimer that he is not arguing ‘that Shakespeare was a Catholic’, he does interpret Sonnet 73 as one that ‘decisively aligns Shakespeare against the Reformation’ (pp. 253, 250). Assuming this is true, that a single sonnet captures Shakespeare’s views of the Reformation, which is a grand and hasty assumption, Duffy does not propose what this means for the Stratford dramatist’s religious creed. Duffy’s argument is little more than a playful suggestion, based upon a single line in a single poem, but it is, in the end, more a scholarly flight-of-fancy than the kind of historical nuance we have come to expect from Duffy’s analysis. Moreover, it is a somewhat limp method of wrapping up the entire book, leaving readers with something much more akin to a sigh than a bang.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

How to Prepare for a Pilgrimage

Vanessa Denha-Garmo asked a very good question at the end of her interview of Father Steve Matejas and me on Catholic Connection last week: How should people prepare for going on the Catholic Martyrs of England Pilgrimage? Here are some hints:

1) All travel involves planning and preparation. When my husband's career provided him with many opportunities to travel and I could go with him, I would plan and prepare my own itinerary for our destination. I would usually research three or four categories of things to see and visit: churches, bookstores, and colleges or universities, plus the usual monuments or museums as applicable. At first, back in the twentieth century, that often involved buying guidebooks or writing to tourism offices for brochures. Now, of course, the internet provides those resources. Corporate Travel Services, Father Steve, and I have taken care of some that planning--CTS books the flights, makes the hotel reservations, arranges the tours; Father and I have given our input to the itinerary.

Pilgrims might want to do their own planning about what they want to do in the evenings when the tour events are over--what sights to see or other places to visit; where to eat in York or London when dinner is not part of the schedule, for example. And there is a half-day in London "on your own" before we conclude the pilgrimage with a visit to St. Etheldreda's for Mass and the Tyburn Convent for a visit to the Martyrs' Shrine and Relics.

2) Pilgrimage travel involves not only practical but spiritual preparation. The Canterbury pilgrims, pictured above, went on pilgrimage for a spiritual purpose: expiation of sin; as penance after confession; for healing; for some other special intention. Pilgrims to England in September this year might prepare a special intention on the tour. The overall intentions of the pilgrimage, as Father Steve and I articulated them, are for us all to increase our devotion to these English martyrs and to meditate on their sacrifices for Jesus and His Church--considering the implications and impact on each of us today. Before a pilgrimage, we should go to Confession, receive Holy Communion, and pray, pray, pray for the grace to complete the tour with devotion, compassion for each other, and for the success of all the travel arrangements, connections, and reservations.

3) A participant on a tour like this might indeed benefit from some supplemental reading and viewing. A copy of my book, Supremacy and Survival: How Catholics Endured the English Reformation, is part of the package from Corporate Travel Services. Father Steve mentioned two other good books to read: Edmund Campion by Evelyn Waugh and The Autobiography of a Hunted Priest by Father John Gerard, SJ. I'd also recommend Saint Robert Southwell and Henry Garnet: A Study in Friendship by Philip Caraman, SJ and Into the Lion's Den: The Jesuit Mission in Elizabethan England and Wales, 1580-1603 by Robert E. Scully, SJ, published by The Institute of Jesuit Sources (St. Louis, Missouri), c. 2011. They could read about St. Thomas More in various biographies, including this one I reviewed last year. With some reservations about Robert Bolt's view of conscience, they could watch A Man for All Seasons, or watch some of the Mary's Dowry productions on the Catholic Martyrs of the English Reformation. They could watch Playing Elizabeth's Tune for some musical background on the era and the conflicts caused by the State imposition of religious orthodoxy. There are more reading ideas for the Stuart era and even more for Blessed John Henry Newman (Oxford) and St. Thomas a Becket (Canterbury), but the works listed above are more accessible.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Review Essay on Spying in Elizabeth I's Reign


Paul Dean, Head of English at Summer Fields School, Oxford, reviews two books for The New Criterion about the spy network operating in England during the reign of Elizabeth I. One is a new biography of Sir Francis Walsingham, which must be the third biography in the past five to ten years, The Queen's Agent by John Cooper; the other is a book I've mentioned before: The Watchers by Stephen Alford. A couple of excerpts:

A “loyal Catholic” was a contradiction in terms. Since the queen had been excommunicated by Pope Pius V’s bull Regnans in excelsis in 1570—which, incidentally, prompts the surprising reflection that England remained technically a Catholic country for the first twelve years of her reign—her Catholic subjects had been released from obedience to her or her laws. (John Cooper, however, remarks that the bull was not widely publicized in England and suggests that “most English Catholics never saw a copy.”) Many priests and laity worked actively to overthrow and replace her, first by Mary Queen of Scots, then, after the latter’s execution for treason in 1587—an act which was forced upon a reluctant Elizabeth by her ministers, who had effectively rigged the case against her royal cousin—by King Philip of Spain. Alford’s book tells the stories of many plotters on both sides: some, like John Somerville, minor figures, others among the great of the land. Intriguing though these stories are, they give the work an episodic feel; it lacks the narrative drive of Cooper’s biography of Walsingham (which Alford seems not to know). Where they cover the same ground, Cooper is usually clearer and more perceptive.


Cooper sensibly warns us of the danger of reading history written by the victors: “The myth that Catholicism is somehow alien to Englishness has had a long and corrosive effect on the national memory of the British Isles.” The first generation of Catholic missionary priests did not seek Elizabeth’s overthrow—indeed, Pope Pius IV offered to leave the Church of England undisturbed if only Catholics were granted freedom to worship. Cardinal Allen’s seminary at Douai, founded in 1568, initially encouraged its graduates to go to England to give pastoral support to Catholic families, not to make converts. (Allen himself, however, advocated the invasion of England by the powers of France and Spain.) Several priests prayed for the queen on the scaffold. Walsingham was uneasy about so many executions—not from humane motives, but because he felt that to create martyrs was to play into the enemy’s hands. It became increasingly difficult, and finally impossible, for many Catholics to take the oath of loyalty which was imposed on every citizen, requiring them “to withstand, pursue, and suppress” anyone designing to hurt the queen. Meanwhile, parliamentary legislation of the 1570s and 1580s, steered through by Walsingham, greatly extended the legal definition of treason.

Commenting on Cooper's explanation of Walsingham's involvement in the downfall of Mary, Queen of Scots, Dean notes:

Walsingham alone, the spider in the center of the web, saw the whole picture. Propelled by his extreme Protestant zeal, he was not above bypassing the law in order to gain his ends. He even recruited a Catholic priest, Gilbert Gifford, by whose means he was able to intercept correspondence between Mary, Queen of Scots and her contacts in Paris, and thereby unmask the Babington plot. (Among the plotters, by the way, was Chidiock Tichborne, whose poem written on the eve of his execution, “My prime of youth is but a frost of cares,” is a small masterpiece.) Gifford was trained by Thomas Phelippes, Walsingham’s chief cipher specialist, about whom Alford writes interestingly. Phelippes and Walsingham went so far as to add a coded postscript to one of Mary’s letters to Babington, using wording which would support a charge of treason against her. Also working on this case was Robert Poley, who was implicated in the death of Marlowe and was probably acting on government orders. (Alford’s downplaying of the evidence for Marlowe’s espionage activity as “sketchy and circumstantial” is questionable.) Babington realized too late that Poley might not be reliable, and wrote him a heartrending note: “I am the same I always pretended. I pray God you be so.” Babington’s inevitable execution in 1586 was made exceptionally brutal; on the personal orders of Elizabeth, “for more terror,” he was rent limb from limb. Mary, being royal, was beheaded, although Elizabeth would have preferred her quietly murdered in private, and even tried to persuade her jailer to do the deed himself.

Read the rest here. Remember, though, that the public reaction to Babington's horrible execution led Elizabeth to withdraw that order: the other conspirators were hung until dead, then cut up and their body parts displayed as the usual warning to plotters.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Ordinariate and the Chair

Today is the titular feast of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter in the United States and Canada:

Note on the Solemnity of the Chair of St. Peter

In his statement on February 11, 2013, our Ordinary, Msgr. Steenson, reminded us that “members of the Ordinariate are in a particular way the spiritual children of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI,” and Msgr. Steenson exhorts us, despite some feelings of sadness and a sense of shock, to deeper joy and special gratitude to the Holy Father “for giving us this beautiful gift of communion.”

On Friday, February 22, the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter will celebrate its Solemnity of Title, and the Ordinary commends all Ordinariate communities in North America to express their gratitude to Pope Benedict with the singing of a Solemn Te Deum of Thanksgiving (at the conclusion of Mass or Evensong, or as a separate service). After the Te Deum and its versicles, this special rite of thanksgiving may conclude with the following prayer:

Let us pray.
O God, whose mercies are without number, and the treasure of whose goodness is infinite: we render thanks unto thy most gracious majesty for the gifts which thou hast bestowed upon us (and especially for the pontificate of our Holy Father Benedict XVI, and for the gift of communion with the Chair of Peter); evermore beseeching thy mercy that, as thou dost grant the prayers of them that call upon thee, so thou wouldst not forsake them, but rather dispose their way towards the attainment of thy heavenly reward. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God world without end. Amen.

The Ordinary and the Ordinariate community is aware that the Te Deum is not usually heard during Lent. However, February 22 is the Ordinariate’s Titular Solemnity and should be kept as such according to the Particular Calendar approved by the Holy See. The Te Deum is rightly proclaimed; Friday abstinence may be dispensed; the liturgical color is white; and the Gloria and Creed are said or sung at Mass (the Alleluia is omitted, as throughout the season).

With thankful joy, let us then pray and work that Pope Benedict’s “labors in the vineyard might continue to bring forth a fruitful harvest.”


A Different Suggestion for Lenten Reading Material

From the current issue of Touchstone Magazine:

Gilbert Meilaender on Reading Dorothy Sayers's Play Cycle for Lent

On June 4, 1955, C. S. Lewis wrote to Dorothy Sayers to thank her for a pamphlet and letter she had sent him. He noted, in passing, that "as always in Holy Week," he had been "re-reading [Sayers's] The Man Born to Be King. It stands up to this v. particular kind of test extremely well." We might, I think, do far worse than imitate Lewis in our own Lenten reading.

The Man Born to Be King is a series of radio plays, twelve in all, dramatizing the life of Jesus from birth to death and resurrection. First broadcast by the BBC in 1941–1942, they were published in 1943, together with Sayers's notes for each play and a long Introduction she wrote recounting both her aims and approaches in writing the plays and some of the first (often comical) reactions from the public. . . .

That is where the artist's skill and imaginative powers are essential, and, to my mind at least, Sayers is at the top of her form in these plays. Those who know her other writings will recall how insistently she argued that her task was to produce—as best she could—good work, plays that were truly good art. The theology implicit in the story and the religious impact of the events recounted would, she hoped, emerge from the story told, but her task was simply to tell that story in as coherent and arresting a fashion as possible. She had to develop the story through characters who, unlike us, do not know how it will end, and who could not, therefore, think in ways that might seem natural to us.

The plays may, therefore, call for some imaginative stretching on our part, but that stretching may also offer in turn a considerable theological payoff. In particular, it may keep Christians from a mistake they have often made—supposing that the political and religious leaders responsible for Jesus' death had as their aim "doing away with God." That is not how Sayers tells the story. "We, the audience, know what they were doing; the whole point and poignancy of the tragedy is lost unless we realise that they did not."

I have read Sayers' radio plays a few times, too, but usually for her depiction of the Nativity. Something that really thrilled me at the end of the online article was this link to an audio version of this play cycle--and it's free! I haven't listened to it yet, but it might answer my plea from a couple of years ago.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

St. Robert Southwell, SJ

St. Robert Southwell was 33 years old when he was executed at Tyburn on February 21, 1595. When he cited his age during his trial, his torturer Richard Topcliffe mocked him for claiming equality with Jesus Christ. Southwell answered that he was but a worm.
It is hard to be temperate when writing about his arrest, torture and execution--it is obviously a horrendous blot against the Elizabethan "regime". He was betrayed by a woman that Elizabeth's pursuivant Richard Topcliffe had raped and blackmailed--he promised to find her a husband since she was pregnant with his child if she would turn Southwell in; he was tortured--illegally and excruciatingly--numerous times, starting with a visit to Topcliffe's personal torture chamber, while Elizabeth's officials looked on; then he was held in fetid conditions until his father visited him in Westminster's gatehouse and petitioned the queen to put him to death rather than leave him there, in his own filth.
Moved to the Tower of London he was held in greater but solitary comfort, but Queen Elizabeth allowed the sadistic Topcliffe to continue torturing Southwell, who had readily admitted his priesthood. Prior to his trial on February 20 he was moved into a hole called Limbo; the government did not even try to implicate him in any plot against the Queen; he was executed just because he was a Catholic priest. When he was executed on February 21st, the crowds made sure he was dead before the butchery began--and no one cheered when his severed head was displayed to the crowd. Indeed, Elizabeth's government recognized that they had gone too far--there was lull in executions of Catholic priests in London. Lord Cecil even ignored Topcliffe's desires to get started on new victims.
Robert Southwell was canonized by Pope Paul VI among the group called The Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. In addition to be a great saint and steadfast martyr, he is regarded as one of the great poets of the Elizabethan Age. Much of his poetry was written while he was held in solitary confinement in the Tower of London and was published posthumously.
One of the best accounts of his mission and his suffering is Philip Caraman's study of St. Robert Southwell's friendship with Father Henry Garnet, SJ, which I reviewed here.

Thomas Haydock, 18th Century English Catholic Publisher

According to wikipedia:

Thomas Haydock (1772–1859), born of one of the oldest English Catholic Recusant families, was a schoolmaster and publisher. His dedication to making religious books available to fellow Catholics suffering under the English Penal Laws came at great personal cost. He is best remembered for publishing an edition of the Douay Bible with extended commentary, compiled chiefly by his brother George Leo Haydock. Originally published in 1811 and still in print, it is one of the most enduring contributions to Catholic biblical studies. . . .

Haydock was born February 21, 1772 in Cottam, in the Fylde section of Lancashire in northern England. This is an area that was slow to accept the new Protestant religion. Speaking of Lancashire, Lord Burghley, advisor to Queen Elizabeth I complained, "The Papists every where are growen so confident, that they contempne Magistrats and their authoritie." In later centuries Lancashire would retain a small but determined Catholic population supported by families of the landed gentry, sometimes hosting secret Masses in their homes. The Haydocks were among the most prominent of these families and became legendary in their service to the Catholic Recusant movement. During the Elizabethan persecution, Father George Haydock (1556–1584), a "seminary priest", suffered martyrdom. He was beatified in 1987, earning the title “Blessed.” Early in the 18th century, Father Cuthbert Haydock (1684–1763) said secret Masses in a chapel hidden in the attic of Lane End House, Mawdesley, the home of his sister and brother-in-law.

Thomas Haydock was part of a unique generation whose combined contributions to this family tradition would be extraordinary. His father was a namesake of Blessed George Haydock. His two brothers both became priests. Older brother James (1765–1809) died caring for the sick of his congregation during a typhus epidemic. Younger brother George Leo (1774–1849), in addition to his work on the Bible, spent his career pastoring poor rural missions. A sister, Margaret (1767? - 1854), joined the Augustinian nuns, taking the name Sister Stanislaus.

He wanted to become a priest too:

After receiving his elementary education at a school established for Catholic students at Mowbreck Hall, Thomas was sent in 1785 to the English College, Douai, France, where he joined his brother, George. This institution was established for Catholic exiles in the 16th century to provide secondary education and preparation for the priesthood. His studies were interrupted in 1793, when the French revolutionary government declared war with England, closed the English College, and imprisoned some of its pro-England students. Both Haydock brothers managed to elude the authorities and escape back to England.

Continuing his pursuit of ordination, Thomas next went to the English College, Lisbon. His superiors there did not feel he had a priestly vocation and sent him home in 1795. Undeterred, he went to the new seminary established at Crook Hall, Durham with his brother George in 1796. Again, his vocation was questioned. Described as “easy going” (see also the “Tragic Personal Life” section below), he seems to have been judged by his superiors as constitutionally unsuited for the risks and hardships of the Catholic priesthood in Penal Period England. The eloquence and dedication Thomas expresses in his letters certainly support his sincerity; and his three attempts at the priesthood show his tenacity. However, against the wishes of his older and recently ordained brother James, he was finally persuaded to leave the seminary. Family friend and former Douay professor Benedict Rayment (1764–1842), who would later serve as editor of some of Haydock’s published works, remarked that of the three Haydock brothers seeking the priesthood, ‘’Thomas would have been the best’’.

Instead, he became a publisher of Catholic books, most notably his own brother George's commentary on the Douai-Rheims English translation of the Holy Bible. Although it was a very popular and important work, he struggled as a publisher:

Thomas Haydock had an enthusiasm for publishing, but was seriously lacking in business skills. He had a trustful nature that associates freely exploited, depriving him of profit and forcing him continually to operate on a shoestring. Although his Bible sold well, he lost money to his managers, clerks, and canvassers and was forced heavily into debt to an unscrupulous lender. Former Douay classmate Father (later Bishop) Robert Gradwell (1777–1860) wrote in August 1817 that Haydock was living in Dublin, “low in the world.” In 1818 he was arrested for debt and served four months in prison.

The experience did not discourage him from continuing his publishing business. By 1822 he was able to issue the first volume of a new edition of the Bible, a more modest undertaking this time, in a smaller octavo format and without the extended commentary of the folio edition. He had to take on several partners to complete the Bible’s second volume in 1824. This edition had many misprints, including the notable substitution of fornications for fortifications in II Corinthians 10:4. He had no known involvement with an American folio edition of the Haydock Bible published in Philadelphia in 1825.

Circa 1818 Haydock married Mary Lynch or Lynde of Dublin. Unfortunately, tragedy would dog his family life, just as it did his business. Mary died in 1823. Their three children all died young. The name of only one is known: George (1822–1840). Curiously, some books dated 1827 have the imprint, Thomas Haydock & Son. The apparent inconsistency between the publication date and the likely ages of any sons that could have been living at the time is a mystery.

Haydock struggled on with publishing at least until 1831, when he was able to reissue the New Testament portion of his original folio Bible. No dated works after that year are known, although he published undated works that may have appeared later. In 1832 he made an unsuccessful attempt to begin a journal called The Catholic Penny Magazine. At some point, he opened a school in Dublin where he resumed teaching until 1840. He left Dublin probably about that year and moved first to Liverpool, then to Preston. He could only watch as other publishers enjoyed success with new editions of his Bible: two British editions, one in 1845-48, another ca. 1853, and an American edition in 1852-4. He died at Preston in 1859, aged 87, with an estate valued at “less than 100 Pounds Sterling.” He was buried in the Haydock family grave at Newhouse Chapel, Newsham.

Happy Birthday to Blessed John Henry Newman

In honor of Blessed John Henry Newman's birthday on February 21, 1801, here is a great video from Corpus Christi Watershed, produced for his beatification by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010. I think this is the best melody and arrangement of "Lead, Kindly Light" (aka "The Pillar of the Cloud") that I have ever heard--it brings out the drama and the crucible of conversion. The composer's name is Kevin Allen.

Corpus Christi Watershed produced more videos before Newman's beatification, working with the Birmingham Oratory:

Newman Archivium Project
St. Philip Shrine Chapel
The Cardinal’s Personal Chapel
The Oratory Church and Prayer
Birmingham Oratory Church
Cardinal Newman’s Library
The Oratory Library and Learning
The Cardinal’s Room
Cardinal Newman Portrait Restoration
The Oratory Clock
The Cardinal’s Effects
Rednal • A Silent Film

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Catholic Connection with Vanessa Denha Garmo

RESCHEDULED FROM TUESDAY! {Teresa Tomeo was ill yesterday.}

Father Steve Mateja and I will be on Ave Maria Radio's Catholic Connection this morning at 8:15 EST (7:15 CST). We will promote the Catholic Martyrs of England Pilgrimage, discussing the purpose of the tour and its itinerary with host Teresa Tomeo  substitute host Vanessa Denha Garmo! Audio archives for the show are stored here.

Here are the details of the itinerary (subject to change and adjustment):

Day 1: Departure 

Depart USA on overnight flight to London, England

Day 2: Arrive in London (D)

Arrive in London and meet your English tour escort. Depart for the historically preserved town of York in northern England. Check into hotel and freshen up before a special Welcome Dinner and presentation on the English Catholic Martyrs (Three Reasons for Martyrdom: Henry VIII’s Supremacy, Elizabeth I’s Recusancy/Penal Laws, and the Popish Plot during the reign of Charles II). Overnight in York.

Day 3: York and the Yorkshire Martyrs (B)

This morning visit the St. Margaret Clitherow Shrine. Known as the “pearl of York” St. Margaret was martyred after refusing to admit or deny that she was hiding priests during the English Reformation. Afterwards, visit York Minster Cathedral, an imposing gothic church that is one of the largest of its kind.  Then visit the English Martyrs Parish to celebrate Mass. After lunch visit the majestic Ruins and Gardens of St. Mary’s Abbey, once the largest and most powerful Abbey in northern England.  Visit the storied York Castle and Site of York Tyburn (where martyrs were executed). This evening enjoy dinner on own. Overnight in York.

Day 4: Day Trip to Oxford (B|D)

Today, check out of hotel and depart for Oxford. Visit St. Mary’s in Oxford (Catholic, Anglican, and Protestant) Martyrs Shrine. Afterward visit the Oxford Oratory, Oriel and Trinity Colleges all sites associated with the life of Blessed John Henry Newman. Celebrate Mass at Oratory. Time for shopping at St. Phillip’s Bookstore. Continue on to London for dinner and overnight in London.

Day 5: London (B)

Today visit to the Tower of London and see the cell of St. Thomas More and Tower Green, his execution site. Visit also Beauchamp Tower to see graffiti by Catholic martyrs. See also the Chapel of St. John (site of St. Edmund Campion’s disputations with Anglican divines) and St. Peter ad Vincula (burial site of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher). Afterwards visit the area of Westminster, famous for the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, as well as the two great churches, Catholic Westminster Cathedral and, of course, Westminster Abbey. See the site of the various trials of St. John Fisher, St. Thomas More and St. Edmund Campion. Celebrate Mass at Westminster Cathedral and learn the story of St. John Southworth, Martyr of Westminster. Dinner on your own and overnight in London.

Day 6:  Canterbury (B|D)

After breakfast set out for the city of Canterbury, destination of Chaucer’s pilgrims from the Canterbury Tales.  It was also the most important ancient city in England and traditional home of the Archbishop of Canterbury.  Today you will tour Canterbury focusing on the life of St Thomas Becket. It was in this city that the Saint was murdered in his own Canterbury Cathedral and was canonized shortly thereafter. You will also visit the house where St Thomas More’s eldest daughter Meg and her husband William Roper lived, opposite St Dunstan’s Church.  The Roper family vault is where Thomas More’s head is buried.  His daughter retrieved it after it was displayed on the Tower Bridge. Visit St. Thomas of Canterbury Catholic Church and celebrate Mass. Dinner and overnight in London.

Day 7: Arundel in Sussex (B)

Today depart for Arundel Castle with its sweeping grounds and gardens, it was built in the 11th century and is considered one of the great treasure houses of England with a history rich in Catholic tradition. Afterwards, visit Arundel Cathedral, dedicated to St. Philip Howard, and celebrate Mass. Return to London for dinner on your own and overnight.

Day 8: London (B|D)

This morning enjoy free time to explore London on your own. Visit the National Art Gallery, shop at the world-famous Harrods’s, or spend time like a local in Trafalgar Square. This afternoon visit to St. Etheldreda’s to celebrate Mass followed by a visit to the cloistered Benedictine Tyburn Convent to see the Tyburn Tree, site of martyrdom for many. Farewell dinner tonight and overnight in London.

Day Nine: Departure to USA (B)

After breakfast transfer to the airport for return flight to USA.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Cancelling and Rescheduling!

Yesterday was quite a day: First I heard that Father Ian Ker is ill and unable to come to Wichita for the Cardinal Newman Lecture at Newman University--so that event was cancelled. We were looking forward to seeing him again very much, because we were to join some other friends for dinner with Father Ker after the lecture!

Then late last night, I heard that Teresa Tomeo's Catholic Connection would not be live on the air today because Teresa is ill! This morning's 8:15 am.. EST/7:15 a.m. CST interview about the Catholic Martyrs of England pilgrimage will be postponed until tomorrow (Wednesday, February 20) at the same time!

I'll keep you updated on this ever-changing schedule!

In anticipation of St. Robert Southwell's feast this week, here's a poem about time and change:

Times Go by Turns
By Robert Southwell

THE lopped tree in time may grow again,
Most naked plants renew both fruit and flower;
The sorriest wight may find release of pain,
The driest soil suck in some moistening shower.
Times go by turns, and chances change by course,
From foul to fair, from better hap to worse.

The sea of Fortune doth not ever flow,
She draws her favours to the lowest ebb.
Her tides hath equal times to come and go,
Her loom doth weave the fine and coarsest web.
No joy so great but runneth to an end,
No hap so hard but may in fine amend.

Not always fall of leaf, nor ever spring,
No endless night, yet not eternal day;
The saddest birds a season find to sing,
The roughest storm a calm may soon allay.
Thus, with succeeding turns, God tempereth all,
That man may hope to rise, yet fear to fall.

A chance may win that by mischance was lost;
The net, that holds no great, takes little fish;
In some things all, in all things none are crossed;
Few all they need, but none have all they wish.
Unmeddled joys here to no man befall;
Who least, hath some; who most, hath never all.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Butt of Malmsey in the Tower of London

CLARENCE: O, I have passed a miserable night,
So full of fearful dreams, of ugly sights,
That, as I am a Christian faithful man,
I would not spend another such night
Though 'twere to buy a world of happy days--
So full of dismal terror was the time.
Methoughts that I had broken from the Tower
And was embarked to cross the Bergundy,
And in my company my brother Gloucester,
Who from my cabin tempted me to walk
Upon the hatches: thence we looked toward England
And cited up a thousand heavy times,
During the wars of York and Lancaster,
That had befall'n us. As we paced along
Upon the giddy footing of the hatches,
Methought that Gloucester stumblèd, and in falling
Struck me (that thought to stay him) overboard
Into the tumbling billows of the main.
O Lord! methought what pain it was to drown!
What dreadful noise of waters in mine ears!
What sights of ugly death within mine eyes!
Methoughts I saw a thousand fearful wracks;
A thousand men that fishes gnawed upon;
Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl,
Inestimable stones, unvaluèd jewels,
All scatt'red in the bottom of the sea:
Some lay in dead men's skulls, and in the holes
Where eyes did once inhabit, there were crept
(As 'twere in scorn of eyes) reflecting gems,
That wooed the slimy bottom of the deep
And mocked the dead bones that lay scatt'red by.
I passed (methought) the melancholy flood,
With that sour ferryman which poets write of,
Unto the kingdom of perpetual night.
The first that there did greet my stranger soul
Was my great father-in-law, renownèd Warwick,
Who spake aloud, 'What scourge for perjury
Can this dark monarchy afford false Clarence?'
And so he vanished. Then came wand'ring by
A shadow like an angel, with bright hair
Dabbled in blood, and he shrieked aloud,
'Clarence is come -- false, fleeting, perjured Clarence,
That stabbed me in the field by Tewkesbury:
Seize on him, Furies, take him unto torment!'
With that (methoughts) a legion of foul fiends
Environed me, and howlèd in mine ears
Such hideous cries that with the very noise
I, trembling, waked, and for a season after
Could not believe but that I was in hell,
Such terrible impression made my dream. (Richard III, Act 1, scene iv)

George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence, Earl of Warwick, Earl of Salisbury, and Lord of Richmond; brother of King Edward IV and King Richard III, died in the Tower of London on February 18, 1478--murdered and drowned in a butt of malmsey wine, at least according to Shakespeare. He was the third son of Richard of York, the great-grandson of Edward III and Cecily Neville. He had married Isabella Neville, daughter of the Kingmaker, Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick (she died in 1476). Thus their two surviving children, Margaret and Edward, were left to the care of their aunt, Anne Neville until she died in 1485. Both of his children would also be imprisoned in the Tower and taken from it to be executed by the victorious Tudors:

--Margaret Pole, 8th Countess of Salisbury (14 August 1473 – 27 May 1541). Married Sir Richard Pole; executed by Henry VIII.

--Edward Plantagenet, 17th Earl of Warwick (25 February 1475 – 28 November 1499). Executed by Henry VII for attempting to escape the Tower of London, in connection with the pretender, Perkin Warbeck. Evidently, his close confinement for so many years had made him most naive and unworldly. With his execution, the male line of the House of York was finished.

His older sister would certainly learn more about the world, marrying Henry VII's cousin, Sir Richard Pole, a Welsh Knight so that her Plantagenet claim to the throne would be diminished. (Shakespeare ascribes that arranged marriage to Richard III: "The son of Clarence have I pent up close; /His daughter meanly have I match'd in marriage" (Richard III, Act IV, scene 3). And her sons and daughters would learn much too--as the third generation of her family suffered in the Tower of London.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Happy 125th Birthday, Ronald Knox!

Baronius Press has a major announcement:

In celebration of the 125th anniversary of the birthday of Ronald Knox on the 17th February 2013, Baronius Press announced today that the text of the Knox Bible translation will be published on — one of the largest Catholic websites in the English speaking world.

Baronius Press’ editor in chief Dr. John Newton said: "Since this edition came back into print — after an absence from our shelves of many decades — it has again been lauded as one of the finest 20th century Bible translation by Cardinals, Bishops and biblical experts alike. The clarity and beauty of this translation will help Catholics to deepen their faith and knowledge of scripture, especially during this year of Faith."

Kevin Knight of New Advent said he was delighted to be able to offer the Knox Bible to his readers. He commented: "We are happy to be able to offer the Knox Bible translation freely to our readers. This is one of the most elegant and readable translations that I have come across and we will be promoting it widely on our website".

The Knox Bible translation was described as "a masterful translation of the Bible" by
Time Magazine and was the first vernacular version to be approved for liturgical use in the 20th century. It has featured on EWTN, received praise from Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Dr. Rowan Williams and Dr. Scott Hahn among others. It has also received many positive reviews from Catholic Biblical scholars and writers.

I reviewed the new edition last year. More about Monsignor Ronald Knox here.

Oh, to be in Oxford in March!

For this Tolkien conference: 

J. R. R. Tolkien is one of the best known authors of the twentieth century, and his books The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings have entertained and intrigued readers alike for decades, becoming some of the most popular books of all time. Many people will have read these novels, or seen the filmed adaptations, but have had little opportunity to take their interests further. To meet this need the Oxford Tolkien Spring School is being organised by the University of Oxford's English Faculty (where Tolkien taught for most of his career), aimed at those who have read some of Tolkien's fiction and wish to discover more. A series of introductory lectures by world-leading Tolkien scholars have been assembled, to take place in the English Faculty, University of Oxford, over the 21-23 March, 2013. Talks will cover Tolkien's life, his work as an academic, his mythology, the influences of medieval literature on his fiction, his languages, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and his other lesser known works. There will also be panel discussions looking at Tolkien's place in the the literary canon. There will also be opportunities to see the sights of Oxford that were so important to Tolkien and his colleagues, as well as an introduction to some of the Tolkien collections at the University.

More info here and here!

I certainly look forward to our day in Oxford on our way from York to London on the Catholic Martyrs of England pilgrimage. We will focus more on Blessed John Henry Newman--and of course, the many Catholic Martyrs from Oxford (like St. Edmund Campion)--but Tolkien, Lewis, and the Inklings won't be far from my thoughts, at least.

The itinerary for that day in Oxford includes visiting the Anglican St. Mary's to see the martyr's shrine; Oriel and Trinity Colleges, and the Oxford Oratory. Lunch at the "Bird and the Baby" would fit in nicely, with shopping at St. Philip's Bookstore and Blackwells! The tour's spiritual director, Father Steve Mateja, will celebrate Mass at St. Aloysius, the Oxford Oratory. Should be a splendid day in Oxford!

Father Majeta and I will be on Teresa Tomeo's Catholic Connection radio show one morning this week, and I'll let you know!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Two Former "Anglicans" on EWTN

A couple of shows on EWTN's The Journey Home, hosted by Marcus Grodi of the Coming Home Network have an English Reformation connection:

On Monday, February 18, Marcus Grodi welcomes Fr. John Saward, a former Anglican, to discuss his conversion.

On Monday, February 25, Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson [ ]the Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, established for Anglicans who want to be Catholic. As a former Episcopal bishop, he discusses with Marcus what convinced him to become a Catholic.

Father John Saward is the Pastor at SS Gregory and Augustine Catholic Church in Oxford and posts this biography:

Fr John Saward was born in 1947, and first trained for the Anglican ministry, receiving Anglican orders in 1972. He was received into the Catholic Church in 1979.

After many years teaching theology in Catholic institutions, he was ordained priest in 2003 and made Priest in Charge of SS Gregory & Augustine in 2005.

Fr Saward is also a Fellow of Blackfriars, the house of studies of the Dominicans, which is a Permanent Private Hall of Oxford University.

He is the author of numerous works of theology, and the official English translator of Pope Benedict XVI's work, 'The Spirit of the Liturgy.'

Here is a link to his C.V. He is one of the editors of Firmly I Believe and Truly: The Spiritual Tradition of Catholic England 1483-1999, a lovely big book I dip into all the time. He is also the author of The Beauty of Holiness and the Holiness of Beauty; The Mysteries of March: Hans Urs Von Balthasar on the Incarnation and Easter, and Redeemer in the Womb, three books I have read and learned much from. Perhaps I'll re-read The Mysteries of March for Lent.

From the website of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter comes this biography of Monsignor Jeffrey Steenson:

Pope Benedict XVI appointed Rev. Jeffrey N. Steenson as the first Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter on January 1, 2012.

Fr. Steenson teaches patristics (the study of the early church fathers) at the University of St. Thomas and St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston, TX.

He and his wife Debra were received into the Catholic Church in 2007, after 28 years of ministry in the Church of England and the Episcopal Church. Fr. Steenson was ordained for the Catholic priesthood in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe in 2009, and was instrumental in establishing the formation program for Anglican priests applying for the Catholic priesthood as part of the ordinariate.

Ordained an Anglican priest in 1980, he served Episcopal parishes in suburban Philadelphia, Pa. (from 1983), and Fort Worth, Texas (from 1989), before becoming canon to the ordinary in the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande (New Mexico and far west Texas) (in 2000). In 2004, he was elected bishop of that diocese. Fr. Steenson was educated at Trinity College, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Harvard Divinity School and the University of Oxford, where he received a doctor of philosophy degree in 1983.

Fr. Steenson has been keenly interested in the question of Catholic unity for many years, drawn to this path, as so many Anglicans and others have, through the writings of the church fathers. Patristic study is one of the glories of the Anglican theological tradition, and perhaps no text better illustrates this trajectory as well as these words from St. Irenaeus of Lyon in the later 2nd century: “It is necessary that all churches be in accord with this church [Rome] on account of her more excellent apostolic foundations” (Against Heresies 3.3.2).

These should be two fascinating episodes.

UPDATE: EWTN is pre-empting the Monday, February 18 episode for the PRAYER VIGIL AND ROSARY FOR DEACON WILLIAM STELTEMEIERFr. Miguel, Celebrant and Fr. Wade Menezes, Homilist. for the repose of the soul of the Founding President and long time Chairman of EWTN, Deacon William Steltemeier. The "repeat" schedule is:

Tue. Feb. 19 at 1:00 AM ET

Fri. Feb. 22 at 1:00 PM ET
Mon. Mar. 18 at 8:00 PM ET
Tue. Mar. 19 at 1:00 AM ET
Fri. Mar. 22 at 1:00 PM ET

and I believe EWTN will post the interview on their youtube channel. 

May Deacon Bill rest in the Peace of Christ. I met him and his wife when I travelled to Irondale, Alabama for EWTN Live and EWTN Bookmark broadcasts.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Bishop Challoner on Fasting

As I have mentioned before on this blog, Bishop Challoner was a very important figure for Catholics in the long eighteenth century. As a minority, they were at their lowest ebb since the Elizabethan settlement: the exiled Stuarts, planning invasions of Scotland, drew many of their nobles and other leaders to France; the Enlightenment Church of England did not care enough about upholding doctrine to urge persecution, and they were generally ignored and weak. Bishop Challoner wrote books of devotion and lives of the saints, including English saints and martyrs of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to inspire them.

This site features a great resource of meditations by Bishop Challoner, including this one for the Friday after Ash Wedneday, on Fasting:

Consider first, that fasting, according to the present discipline of the Church, implies three things. First, we are to abstain from flesh meat on fasting days; secondly, we are to eat but one meal in the day; and thirdly, we are not to take that meal till about noon. The ancient discipline of the Church was more rigorous, both in point of the abstinence, and in not allowing the meal in Lent till the evening. These regulations are calculated to mortify the sensual appetite by penance and self-denial. If you find some difficulty in the observance of them, offer it up to God for your sins. Fasting is not designed to please, but to punish. Your diligent compliance on this occasion with the laws of your mother the Church will also give an additional value to your mortifications, from the virtue of obedience.

Consider 2ndly, that we must not content ourselves with the outward observance of these regulations that relate to our diet on fasting days, but we must principally have regard to the inward spirit, and what we may call the very soul of the fast, which is a penitential spirit; without this the outward observance is but like a carcass without life. This penitential spirit implies a deep sense of the guilt of our sins; a horror and a hearty sorrow for them; a sincere desire to return to God, and to renounce our sinful ways for the future; and particularly a readiness of mind to make the best satisfaction we are capable of to divine justice by penancing ourselves for our sins. Fasting, performed in this spirit, cannot fail of moving God to mercy. O my soul, let thy fasting be always animated with this spirit

Consider 3rdly, that fervent prayer and alms-deeds also, according to each one’s ability, ought to be the inseparable companions of our fasting. These three sisters should go hand-in-hand, Tob. xii. 8, to help us in our warfare against our three mortal enemies, the flesh, the world, and the devil. The practice of these three eminent good works we must oppose to that triple concupiscence which reigns in the world, and by means of which Satan maintains his unhappy reign. By fasting we overcome the lusts of the flesh by alms-deeds we subdue the lusts of the eyes, by which we are apt to covet the mammon of the world, and its empty toys; and by fervent and humble prayer we conquer the pride of life, and put to flight the devil, the king of pride. O let us never forget to call in these powerful auxiliaries to help us in our warfare. Let alms-deeds and prayer ever accompany our fasts.

Conclude to follow these rules, if you desire your fast should be acceptable; if you fail in them, it will not be such a fast as God hath chosen.

Read more here.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Book Review: Roman Catholicism in England

Edward Norman, who recently joined the Catholic Church through the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, wrote this OPUS book in 1985:

Roman Catholicism in England[: from the Elizabethan Settlement to the Second Vatican Council] is the first study for several decades of the way in which the English Catholics have asserted their faith in the four centuries since the Reformation, of how they have sought to balance allegiance to Rome and the 'old faith' with loyalty to the English Constitution, even in times of severe persecution. It examines the ideas of leading figures in the Church, assessing their contribution to significant changes in Roman Catholicism up to the Second Vatican Council and pinpointing the shifts away from traditional antagonism.

This short survey, only 138 pages (including index) covers the recusant centuries of martyrdom and suffering, the long eighteenth century, emancipation and restoration in the nineteenth century, and Catholic involvement in twentieth century England, including Catholic opposition to the establishment of the Welfare State (primarily because of its effects on the family). Norman begins with a fascinating comment on the particular response of Catholics in England to being an oppressed and suppressed minority: he notes that "small religious communities and churches, existing at the margin of society" which have attracted "the hostility of their neighbors" and are "subject to active persecution" often develop a sectarian and radical outlook. Norman contends, however, that "The English Catholic 'recusants'--those who refused to conform to the laws of the unitary Protestant establishment--did not develop  sectarian qualities, did not become political radicals (although a few sought revolution as a means of procuring a Catholic dynastic restoration), did not deviate from orthodoxy, and did not above all, quietly slide back into a comfortable acquiescence with the new order."

Norman concludes with this admiring comment: "Theirs is a noble history of enormous self-sacrifice for higher purposes, and of a rooted determination to preserve both their English virtue and their religious allegiance in a sensible and clear balance."

This is just the first page of the book! I found similar insights and brilliance throughout the contents of Roman Catholicism in England:

1. A rejected minority
2. The Elizabethan settlement
3. Catholics under the penal laws
4. The era of Emancipation and expansion
5. Leaders and thinkers
6. Twentieth-century developments

Suggested further reading

Highly recommended.

Note: Norman dedicated the book to Saint Henry Walpole "Domus Sancti Petri Alumnus"!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Ashless Ash Wednesday of 1548

Eamon Duffy's The Stripping of the Altars is so indispensible! If I had to be on a desert island and couldn't follow up on G.K. Chesterton’s advice to have a book about building ships, I would want to have Duffy's book with me. It definitely changed our view of the English Reformation. Note that Alec Ryrie comes at the English Reformation from a distinctly Protestant view, but appreciates Duffy’s achievement so well:

As an interpretation of English Reformation history, there was nothing particularly revolutionary about The Stripping of the Altars. The argument, essentially, was that pre-Reformation English Catholicism was a vibrant, popular, unified and flourishing tradition; a tradition that was then wantonly, deliberately and violently destroyed by a small clique of Protestant extremists. Others had made similar arguments, and while this picture can be overstated, precious few scholars today reject it entirely.

Duffy's particular achievement, though, was to show us "traditional religion" (not "popular" religion, he insists: the elite shared it, too) at parish level. And Duffy, an Irish Catholic born in 1947, understands this tradition in his bones. He can explain how, for example, an illiterate people could fully understand a Latin liturgy even if they could not actually translate it. He rescues medieval Catholicism from both the caricatures of later Protestantism and the condescension of later Catholicism. . . .

But he has changed the discipline, for three reasons. First, the sheer mass of evidence his scholarship has accumulated. This is a fat book, which, as a review quoted on the cover insists, is "not a page too long". Second, it makes sense of so much else. Scholars with Protestant sympathies frequently agree with Duffy about much of what happened, if not with his tone of lament. His rehabilitation of Mary I - long remembered as "Bloody Mary" - has been particularly compelling.

Lastly, the passion with which he writes gives the reader not merely a shrewd historical argument but a compelling vision of what it meant actually to live this traditional religion. It is a vision that a secular historian could not have given us.

In the chapter on Edward VI, ("The Attack on Traditional Religion III: The Reign of Edward VI") he recounts the Ashless Ash Wednesday of 1548, which followed the Candle-less Candlemas of the Feast of the Purification. Palm Sunday was palm-less that year, of course, and no processions--no Creeping to the Cross on Good Friday. The entire edifice of Catholic culture and liturgy was being dismantled in England.

Blessed John Henry Newman moved his listeners to tears at the first Catholic synod held in the Diocese of Westminster on July 13, 1852 when he preached his sermon on the Second Spring:

Three centuries ago, and the Catholic Church, that great creation of God's power, stood in this land in pride of place. It had the honours of near a thousand years upon it; it was enthroned in some twenty sees up and down the broad country; it was based in the will of a faithful people; it energized through ten thousand instruments of power and influence; and it was ennobled by a host of Saints and Martyrs. The churches, one by one, recounted and rejoiced in the line of glorified intercessors, who were the respective objects of their grateful homage. Canterbury alone numbered perhaps some sixteen, from St. Augustine to St. Dunstan and St. Elphege, from St. Anselm and St. Thomas down to St. Edmund. York had its St. Paulinus, St. John, St. Wilfrid, and St. William; London, its St. Erconwald; Durham, its St. Cuthbert; Winton, its St. Swithun. Then there were St. Aidan of Lindisfarne, and St. Hugh of Lincoln, and St. Chad of Lichfield, and St. Thomas of Hereford, and St. Oswald and St. Wulstan of Worcester, and St. Osmund of Salisbury, and St. Birinus of Dorchester, and St. Richard of Chichester. And then, too its religious orders, its monastic establishments, its universities, its wide relations all over Europe, its high prerogatives in the temporal state, its wealth, its dependencies, its popular honours,--where was there in the whole of Christendom a more glorious hierarchy? Mixed up with the civil institutions, with king and nobles, with the people, found in every village an in every town,--it seemed destined to stand, so long as England stood, and to outlast, it might be, England's greatness.

But it was the high decree of heaven, that the majesty of that presence should be blotted out. It is a long story, my Fathers and Brothers--you know it well. I need not go through it. The vivifying principle of truth, the shadow of St. Peter, the grace of the Redeemer, left it. That old Church in its day became a corpse (a marvellous, an awful change!); and then it did but corrupt the air which once it refreshed, and cumber the ground which once it beautified. So all seemed to be lost; and there was a struggle for a time, and then its priests were cast out or martyred. There were sacrileges innumerable. Its temples were profaned or destroyed; its revenues seized by covetous nobles, or squandered upon the ministers of a new faith. The presence of Catholicism was at length simply removed,--its grace disowned,--its power despised,--its name, except as a matter of history, at length almost unknown. It took a long time to do this thoroughly; much time, much thought, much labour, much expense; but at last it was done. Oh, that miserable day, centuries before we were born! What a martyrdom to live in it and see the fair form of Truth, moral and material, hacked piecemeal, and every limb and organ carried off, and burned in the fire, or cast into the deep! But at last the work was done. Truth was disposed of, and shovelled away, and there was a calm, a silence, a sort of peace;--and such was about the state of things when we were born into this weary world.