Tuesday, April 30, 2013

One of Henry VIII's Loyal Servants: Thomas Audley

Thomas Audley, lst Baron Audley of Warren died on April 30, 1544--he managed to die safely in his bed with his head intact by serving Henry VIII very well. A lawyer by training, Audley served Cardinal Wolsey and served in Parliament, representing Essex and he continued to rise in office throughout Henry VIII's reign.

Audley participated in the trials and executions of not only Thomas More and John Fisher, but also of Anne Boleyn and Thomas Cromwell, and he sentenced the rebels of the Pilgrimage of Grace to death. For these and other services (the annulment of Henry VIII's marriage to Anne of Cleves, for instance), he was not only knighted but became a member of the Order of the Garter. Audley was Lord Keeper of the Great Seal from 1532, when he succeeded Thomas More, to 1544, when he resigned it on April 21. He also succeeded Thomas More as Speaker of the House of Commons in 1529 and as Lord Chancellor in 1533. According to this parliamentary history website, there has been some controversy about his activity at these trials and about his religious positions:

If his knightly status exempted Audley from the trial of Anne Boleyn in 1536 (it was not he but John, 8th Lord Audley, who took part in this), he was involved in all the other state trials of these years. His conduct in these trials, and especially in More’s, has been much criticized but it deserves to be judged in the light of Audley’s own beliefs concerning the rights of the sovereign and the duties of the subject. No such criticism, despite occasional and clearly prejudiced charges of favouritism and corruption, can be levelled against his conduct as an equity judge, and even in cases of treason his attitude is illustrated by his advice in 1536 that the Duke of Suffolk should be armed against the Lincolnshire rebels with a commission to try cases of treason, showing that he took for granted, even in such circumstances, the necessity of a trial at common law.

Audley’s religious position is difficult to assess. A correspondent of Melanchthon named him with Cromwell and Cranmer as friends to Protestantism but, if he was, the friendship was always qualified by his allegiance to the King whose policies he faithfully carried out, a course which in general gives an impression of conservatism. Thus an anonymous enthusiast for the Act of Six Articles (31 Hen. VIII, c.14) again linked Audley with Cromwell as two men who, this time in contrast to Cranmer and to other bishops, had been ‘as good as we can desire’ in the furtherance of the measure. Audley was equally content to follow Cromwell’s lead and what few clashes there were between them arose largely out of minor questions of patronage.

Audley also benefitted from the Dissolution of the Monasteries, receiving grants of Holy Trinity Priory in Aldgate, London (which had been founded by Queen Matilda or Maud, Henry I's wife) and Walden Abbey, where his grandson, Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk built Audley End, which is now part of the English Heritage program. He founded Magdalene College at the University of Cambridge in 1542, after the Benedictine's Buckingham College was closed.

Audley's title as lst Baron Audley of Warren died with him. One of his daughters, Margaret, married Thomas Howard, the 4th Duke of Norfolk (who was executed by Elizabeth I).

Monday, April 29, 2013

"Treason" Historical Fiction Plus Tension

I requested and received a review copy of Dena Hunt's historical novel published by Sophia Institute Press; the book arrived Friday in the mail and I finished it Saturday. Except for one issue of historical accuracy, I found the book to be an exciting and effective story about recusant Catholics and missionary priests in Elizabethan England.

Matching the achievement of Robert Hugh Benson in depicting the religious conflict and crisis of Reformation England, Dena Hunt adds the element of suspense in Treason: A Catholic Novel of Elizabeth England. With omniscient narration weaving several different story lines in several different locations to a seven day plot, Hunt depicts the underground lives of a missionary priest, the recusant Catholics who shelter him, an unhappily wed wife, an Anglican minister who secretly reads Catholic texts from the Fathers of the Church, and a wealthy family whose home hides many secrets. The various plot lines all come together on the seventh day, and the epilogue depicts the Eighth Day, when two vocations are fulfilled.

Readers of Benson will recognize one of the supporting characters in Hunt's ensemble: Patricia, the Reverend Andrew Wilson's wife resembles Lady Torridon of The King's Achievement in her cold demeanor and dark black eyes and Marion Dent, the Rector's wife in By What Authority in her effect on the recusant Catholics in her village--but without the ducking! But where Benson builds up the tension year after year from 1570 to 1581 and beyond, Hunt presents all that action rapidly, as the main characters meet along the way until they gather at the Anders' home in Somerset and the chaotic climax of the story.

While Hunt keeps up the pace and the novel reads swiftly and easily, she does pause for passages of beautiful description--like this, when Caroline, one of the main characters, explores the grounds of a destroyed convent years after Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries:

The emptiness of it all was so strangely full--like its silence, so deep that it was full of sound. Everything, every place in this ruin, was full of its own contradiction, like two worlds existing together, in the same place, at the same time. How could that be? It was as though there had been a sketch over which a contradictory overlay had been placed in an attempt to eradicate it. But that hadn't happened. Instead, the two realities existed together, and instead of the intended contradiction, the overlay had made something else altogether. Destruction had  been transformed into creation--its intention notwithstanding--and it was a creation greater, more beautiful, than the reality it meant to destroy. Destruction had succeeded only in making it eternal.

There are other passages of similar depth as the characters try to reconcile how much they have to hide with how much they want to share their faith and love. Each of them struggles with what they must do to remain true to that faith and love while striving to survive. As Father Stephen tells Caroline when she confesses deceit, "Everyone has to be deceptive now."

The only quarrel I have with the book is the year in which Hunt sets it: 1581. It was not an act of treason to be a Catholic priest in England in 1581; that law was not passed until 1585. The great litany of martyred priests had not yet begun in 1581 as the English mission was redeveloping slowly after the execution of Cuthbert Mayne in 1577; Saints Edmund Campion, Ralph Sherwin, and Alexander Briant would suffer on December 1, 1581. If Father Stephen Long or the two other priests mentioned in the story were to be sentenced to death for treason in the May of 1581, it would not have been for their priesthood and presence in England per se; it would have been for their efforts to convert Anglicans (1581 law), for defending papal supremacy in the Church (1563 law), or for calling Elizabeth a heretic or a schismatic (1571). After 1585, it would be treason for a Jesuit or seminary priest to enter the country (27 Eliz., c. 2)--and I think that Hunt would have done well to set her Catholic novel of Elizabethan England after 1585.


Introduction by Joseph Pearce
Preface by Dena Hunt

1. The twenty-first of May, in 1581 (in Devonshire)
2. The same day, in Somerset
3. The next morning, May 22, in Blexton
4. The following day, May 23, on the road to Bath
5. The morning of May 24, at The Rose and Thorn
6. The evening of the same day, May 24
7. The morning of May 25
8. The morning of May 26
9. The afternoon of the same day, the twenty-sixth of May
10. The twenty-seventh of May

Epilogue: The fifteenth day of August 1581

It's a very effective historical novel; well-paced and plotted: highly recommended.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Three Generations of Trouble: Henry Percy

Henry Percy, the 9th Earl of Northumberland AKA "The Wizard Earl" was born on April 27, 1564. His father was also named Henry Percy, but he was the 8th Earl of Northumberland, receiving that title when his brother, the Wizard Earl's uncle, Thomas Percy, 7th Earl of Northumbland was executed in 1572 for his leadership of the Northern Rebellion--and Thomas Percy was beatified by Pope Leo XIII as a martyr! The Wizard Earl's father died in the Tower of London, imprisoned there under suspicion of treason. His grandfather had also run afoul of the Tudor monarch of his era, as Sir Thomas Percy was executed by Henry VIII in 1537 for his involvement in the Pilgrimage of Grace (I'm not sure why he hasn't been beatified as a martyr if his son has been). I think we can see a pattern of trouble in this family's relationship to the Tudors--and it held true for the Wizard Earl during the reign of James I of England.

According to this website:

Henry Percy, the 9th or ‘Wizard’ Earl of Northumberland led an extraordinary life of a true Renaissance nobleman, despite his deafness and 15 years as a prisoner. He was a great scholar, became the patron of the English astronomer Thomas Harriot, the first man to map the surface of the moon before Galileo and earned his nickname ‘Wizard’ by experimenting in alchemy. He was a friend of Sir Walter Raleigh and their interest in the New World led them to consume great quantities of tobacco and potatoes. But it was on 4 November 1605, that the Earl’s fortunes declined literally overnight! A distant cousin, Thomas Percy, who was a staunch Roman Catholic, dined with the Earl at Syon before joining Guy Fawkes and his accomplices the next day, in the attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament. As one of the principal ‘gunpowder plotters’, Thomas was shot trying to make his escape. Although innocent of the charges brought against him, the Earl was implicated through his association with Thomas and the fateful meeting at Syon. He was confined in the Tower of London for the next 15 years on the orders of King James I.

The 9th Earl was known as the Wizard Earl because of his great interest in science--even in alchemy--and his development of a great library. He was eventually released from the Tower and he died on November 5, 1632. Believe it--or not!
Alexander Rose's Kings in the North: The House of Percy in British History tells the story of this family and one reviewer summarized the generations of trouble and adventure they exemplify:
Over the past eight centuries, two earls and one duke have been killed in battle, most recently in 1940; one has been lynched by a mob; one beheaded for treason, one shot by government assassins, five incarcerated in the Tower for more or less prolonged periods, and one beatified by the Church of Rome. It is a striking record of public service or disservice, depending on your point of view. The Percys are still the owners of Alnwick Castle and Syon House, and are among the largest landowners in Britain. . . .
As soon as the Scottish menace faded in the 16th century, the Percys lost their power. The Tudors no longer needed a viceroy in the north. The sixth earl was ruined by Henry VIII, the seventh executed by Elizabeth, the eighth murdered in the Tower and the ninth abandoned politics for chemistry and astronomy. His successors abandoned the north altogether, and went to live on their Sussex and London estates. The modern fortunes of the family are due to Sir Hugh Smithson, who married the last Percy heiress in the 18th century, adopted her name, and re-established the family as a great northern dynasty.

Friday, April 26, 2013

E.I. Watkins, Friend of Christopher Dawson

Sometimes I stumble across something on the web (ouch!)--the other day, after posting on Sir Colin Davis's death, I remembered that Davis had been one of the musicians who signed the letter to Pope Paul VI that led to the "Agatha Christie" indult for the traditional Catholic Mass (now aka the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Liturgy of the Roman Rite). Another name in that list is E.I. Watkin, whose biography was recently issued:

The Watkin Path: An Approach to Belief [by his daughter Magdalen Goffin] is a panorama of twentieth-century social and political history seen through the life of E. I. Watkin (1888–1981). The interplay of love, friction, war, politics and money, together with a relentless search for religious truth, makes this book read more like a novel than a biography.

Watkin was the only child of Emmeline Paxton Ingram, a daughter of Herbert Ingram, the founder of the Illustrated London News. His father was the nephew of Sir Edward Watkin, the Liberal MP and railway magnate, who started to build the first Channel Tunnel and later a tower to rival Eiffel’s where Wembley Stadium now stands. At birth Watkin was handed over to his Ingram grandmother, an old lady who lived alone in a mansion by the river at Walton-on-Thames. He met few other children, and his strange childhood may account for some of his eccentricities.

Watkin became a Roman Catholic when he was at Oxford. His experience as one of the inner circle of Catholic writers is revealing: He was allowed to publish his books on philosophy, history or literature, but when it came to the interpretation of the Catholic faith he was persistently harassed by the censors. Although Watkin was one of the foremost English precursors of the Second Vatican Council, he deeply deplored some of its consequences.

His extraordinary life experiences were many and varied: from sitting on Mrs Gladstone’s lap at the ceremonial opening of the Watkin Path up Snowdon, to falling instantly in love with Helena Shepheard at a party in 1912, at which point he stopped his diary writing. The story of that marriage, and the Watkin family’s engagement with politicians and theologians about the political and social issues of the time, make for a truly fascinating biography of a most extraordinary man.

At Oxford, Watkin studied at New College (which is actually quite old; founded in 1379, it was called "New College" to distinguish it from the older college at Oxford, Oriel, founded in 1326). Watkin was a mentor to Christopher Dawson in the latter's conversion to Catholicism and worked with Eric Gill and Donald Attwater on the Catholic pacifist movement Pax; additionally, he wrote many books:

Some Thoughts on Catholic Apologetics: A Plea for Interpretation (1915)

A Little Book of Prayers for Peace (1916)
The Philosophy of Mysticism (1920)
The Bow in the Clouds: An Essay Towards the Integration of Experience (1931)
A Philosophy of Form (1935)
Theism, Agnosticism And Atheism (1936)
Men and Tendencies (1937)
The Crime of Conscription (1939)
The Catholic Center (1939)
Catholic Art and Culture (1942)
Praise of Glory (1943)
The Balance of Truth (1943)
Poets and Mystics (1953)
Neglected Saints (1955) -- Ignatius Press reissued this in paperback
Roman Catholicism in England from the Reformation to 1950 (1957)
The Church in Council (1960)

His son was a Benedictine monk, Abbot Aelred Watkin, of Downside Abbey:
Abbot Aelred Watkin was one of the most loved and most respected monks in the Benedictine Order. The two most conspicuous features of his character - a deep spirituality combined with an infectious love of life - are encapsulated in one of his favourite quotations from William Blake: "Everything that lives is holy; life delights in life."

He was born Christopher Ingram Watkin in 1918, the son of a Roman Catholic philosopher and historian, E.I. Watkin, their common middle name perpetuating descent from Herbert Ingram, the founder of the Illustrated London News. His mother, Helen Shepheard, was the daughter of Maria Pasqua, who had been a penniless Italian model until she was adopted by a member of the Baring family, the wealthy Comtesse de Noailles.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Some "RC" News from England: Marriages, Royal or Not

The Marriage Act of 1753, proposed by Lord Hardwicke, required that for a marriage to be valid, the wedding must take place in the Church of England in a ceremony conducted by a minister of the Church of England. Of course, that caused a great problem for Catholics and Protestant dissenters, although Jews and Quakers were exempted from the Act. The law was passed to prevent clandestine marriages and also required banns be published. This restriction was eventually removed by Parliament in the Marriage Act of 1836 which allowed non-conformists and Catholics to be married in their own places of worship.

According to The Telegraph, recent Parliamentary actions may be undoing the 1836 law:

Prof Christopher McCrudden said that there are serious questions over whether the 120-year-old legal basis on which 8,500 Catholic weddings a year are performed can even “survive” the passage of the bill currently before Parliament.

He told MPs and peers that, unless urgent changes are made, Catholic bishops may have to reconsider whether priests can carry on performing weddings, in effect, on behalf of the state.

The barrister said his advice to senior bishops is that proposed protections for churches against legal challenges under human rights or equalities laws for refusing to marry gay couples completely overlook the position of Catholics and other denominations.

It means that the entire legal basis for Catholic weddings, operating since the late 19th century, could be “unpicked” with “very uncertain consequences”, he warned.

One possible outcome could even be a complete separation of church and civil weddings, such as happens in France where coupes are married in the town hall with a separate service in churches, he said.

On the other hand, the changes in the rules of succession to the throne in England, specifically to allow an heir to the throne to marry a Catholic, have created some concerns:

The Church expects Catholic spouses to do all they can to raise their children as Catholics but does not censure them if they are unable to do so, a Government spokesman has told the House of Lords as it debated changes to the system of Royal succession.

Lord Wallace of Tankerness, speaking on behalf of the Government, said he had been advised on the matter by Mgr Marcus Stock, general secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

“I have the specific consent of Mgr Stock to say that he was speaking on behalf of Archbishop Nichols as president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and can inform the House that the view taken by the Catholic Church in England and Wales is that, in the instance of mixed marriages, the approach of the Catholic Church is pastoral,” he said.

“It will always look to provide guidance that supports and strengthens the unity and indissolubility of the marriage. In this context the Catholic Church expects Catholic spouses to sincerely undertake to do all that they can to raise children in the Catholic Church. Where it has not been possible for the child of a mixed marriage to be brought up as a Catholic, the Catholic parent does not fall subject to the censure of canon law,” Lord Wallace continued.

The remarks were made during the third reading debate of the Succession to the Crown Bill in the House of Lords on Monday.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Book Review: American Church (pka The Gibbons Legacy) by Russell Shaw

According to the publisher, Ignatius Press:

Has the Americanization of American Catholics--their cultural assimilation, that is--been a blessing or a curse for the Church in the United States? Or has it been a bit of both?

In American Church Russell Shaw takes a searching look at that question and reaches a disturbing conclusion. Cultural assimilation, which was ardently championed by churchmen like the great Cardinal James Gibbons of Baltimore around the turn of the last century, has undoubtedly conferred many benefits on Catholics. Their absorption into the secular culture of America, however, now threatens the Catholic identity of millions of faithful and of their institutions, such as schools, universities, and hospitals.

Shaw does not offer this conclusion as an unsupported generalization. American Church is a richly documented analysis of a process extending over two centuries. Colorful characters and dramatic incidents abound, including the nineteenth-century intellectual feud between Orestes Brownson and the Transcendentalist convert to Catholicism Isaac Hecker, Pope Leo XIII's condemnation of Americanism, the anti-Catholicism that greeted the presidential campaigns of Al Smith and John F. Kennedy, and the numerous intra-Church conflicts that have divided American Catholics since the Second Vatican Council.

In concluding his study, Shaw offers a number of thought-provoking suggestions about what the Church in America needs to do now in the face of an ongoing decline that is sapping its strength and may threaten its very survival.

Russell Shaw is a widely published author and journalist who has written twenty previous books, including To Hunt, To Shoot, To Entertain: Clericalism and the Catholic Laity and Nothing to Hide: Secrecy, Communication, and Communion in the Catholic Church. For 18 years, Shaw directed media relations for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the United States Catholic Conference. From 1987 to 1997 he oversaw media relations for the Knights of Columbus. Since resigning from that position, he has worked full time as a freelance writer.

American Church: The Remarkable Rise, Meteoric Fall, and Uncertain Future of Catholicism in America surveys recent history as a personal memoir, analyses the efforts of late nineteenth and early twentieth century Church leaders to chart a path for Catholics in America, and provides some ideas to strengthen Catholic culture in America, ideas which build on movements and efforts already in place. The first several pages of this book presented some confusion as evidently Ignatius Press had changed the title of the book sometime after the text was printed and bound. The original title was "The Gibbons Legacy" and therefore the Foreword by Archbishop Chaput and the Introduction kept mentioning that title. I see that the Kindle edition on amazon.com has cleared up that confusion but it was off putting for a time as I read the paperback edition, which I purchased..

(This is an interesting note for the present and future production of books--the printed and electronic editions can be different: it's much easier to address changes and even corrections in the electronic version. Which one is the official version? Does the Library of Congress decide?)

I presume Ignatius and Shaw changed the title because of concern no one knows who "Gibbons" was--James Cardinal Gibbons, the ninth Archbishop of Baltimore (from 1877 to 1921). Shaw's book comes at a time when others are writing about the renewal of Catholic culture in the U.S., including George Weigel and Ryan N. S. Topping. I have not read those books, so I cannot compare them, but Shaw's book traces the path of assimilation of Catholics in American culture--and as that culture became more and more secularized, then Catholics on that path became more and more secularized. Then he addresses, often from personal experiences, the effects of the implementation of the "spirit of Vatican II", changes in Catholic higher education, reform movements in the episcopacy--and he uses his personal recollections well, without falling into the trap of becoming anecdotal.

On the other hand, I did not think another thread Shaw weaves through the narrative was that effective: he uses the story of The Cardinal, a 1950 novel by Henry Morton Robinson, usually thought to be based on the life of Cardinal Spellman, the Archbishop of New York, as an example of trends and issues in the Catholic Church in America in the early twentienth century. Shaw uses scenes from The Cardinal to exemplify certain changes and events--if you are interested, TCM will be showing the movie based on the novel this summer.

Overall, the story Shaw tells is sad--how the Church lost its influence on American culture because it tried to assimilate too much into American culture. Shaw's hope for the restoration of that influence is in the development of a Catholic subculture, which I think exists--EWTN, Catholic bloggers, the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, the youthful pro-life movement--and I think will remain small. Primarily, I think Shaw is correct that it is the formation of the laity, as inspired by the documents of the Second Vatican Council that is most important--instead of pursuing "ministries" inside the Church, we should be working to influence our culture--exactly through the sub-culture Shaw outlines. Perhaps the institutional Church should not aspire to the great influence of former days as it may come at the same cost of assimilation or accomodation. Thought-provoking, to say the least.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Telling Detail: St. Thomas More's Chain of Office

From Peggy Noonan's Wall Street Journal analysis of Margaret Thatcher's funeral comes this telling detail:

Thatcher's funeral was striking in that it was not, actually, about her. It was about what she thought it important for the mourners to know. The readings were about the fact of God, the gift of Christ, and the necessity of loving your country and working for its betterment. There were no long eulogies. In a friendly and relatively brief address, the bishop of London lauded her kindness and character. No funeral of an American leader would ever be like that: The dead American would be the star, with God in the position of yet another mourner who'd miss his leadership.

The pageantry, for an American, was most moving. The English as always do this brilliantly but I wonder if they understand—they must, but it's not something they acknowledge—that when they bring out and put forward their splendor they are telling the world and themselves who they are and have been. Leading the procession into St. Paul's was the lord mayor of London, in velvet coat, breeches and buckled shoes. On his coat he wore Sir Thomas More's gold chain of office, taken from him before he was killed in the Tower (sic). Imagine a nation that puts such a man to death, contemplates it, concludes in the end it was wrong, and now proudly displays the saint's chain at its greatest events. When I saw it I thought of a recent trip to the Vatican. Touring its archives, we were shown one of its proudest possessions: a letter from Galileo.

Things change. Time changes them. Great nations, and institutions, rethink. But only if they're great.

The chain of office Noonan refers to is the Collar of Esses, which in the detail of the Holbein portrait from this site, you can see is a chain of "S" linked with a Tudor Rose hanging from it. This article has some more detail about the Lord Mayor's Chain of Esses, noting that it is not completely original, and that Henry VIII gave these collars out as rewards for faithful service:

The merciless punishments Henry VIII meted out to his enemies have been well documented. Less is known about how, on the rarer occasions when the king was happy with the service of his courtiers or the country's most eminent noblemen, he liked to give them a golden livery collar or heavy chain as a token of his gratitude.

Henry VIII only awarded around 20 of the chains. They were all engraved with the characters SS, referring to the Latin religious creed, Spiritus Sanctus (Holy Spirit), though none were believed to have survived in their entirety. [I'm not sure what the author is refering to here--the Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Holy Trinity; Spiritus Sanctus is just the Latin for Holy Spirit.]

Now, however, the first complete "collar of the Esses", as they were known, has been discovered in the family home of the Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The collar was presented to Edward Montagu, the then Lord Chief Justice, by King Henry in the 1540s.

It is understood that the extraordinary find is to be sold in December at Christie's auction house in London, where it is expected to fetch up to £1m.

The only other Esses collar known to be in existence, which is owned by the Lord Mayor of London, is believed to contain just 20 per cent of the original craftmanship, while the new discovery has much more of its original design intact.

A number of silver collars of the Esses, which were handed out to queens and courtiers, survive today, including one on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum. But a gold version of the livery chain was far rarer to behold in Henry VIII's day.

The gold collar famously features in the portrait of Sir Thomas More painted by Hans Holbein, which was used as a background for credits in the television series, The Tudors.

Although the English nation may regret the execution of Sir Thomas More, we know that it has had greater difficulty with acknowledging the truth about the English Reformation--that's been a regular theme of this blog and my book, Supremacy and Survival: How Catholics Endured the English Reformation. As recently as last year, Eamon Duffy stated:

For five centuries England has been in denial about the role of Roman Catholicism in shaping it. The coin in your pocket declares the monarch to be Defender of the Faith. Since 1558 that has meant the Protestant faith, but Henry VIII actually got the title from the Pope for defending Catholicism against Luther. Henry eventually broke with Rome because the Pope refused him a divorce, and along with the papacy went saints, pilgrimage, the monastic life, eventually even the Mass itself – the pillars of medieval Christianity.

To explain that revolution, the Protestant reformers told a story. Henry had rejected not the Catholic Church, but a corrupt pseudo-Christianity which had led the world astray. John Foxe embodied this story unforgettably in his Book of Martyrs, subsidised by the Elizabethan government as propaganda against Catholicism at home and abroad. For Foxe, Queen Elizabeth was her country’s saviour, and the Reformation itself the climax of an age-old struggle between God, represented by the monarch, and the devil, represented by the Pope. . . .

It is time to look again at the Reformation story. There was nothing inevitable about the Reformation. The heir to the throne is uneasy about swearing to uphold the Protestant faith, and it seems less obvious than it once did that the religion which gave us the Wilton Diptych and Westminster Abbey, or the music of Tallis, Byrd and Elgar, is intrinsically un-English. The destruction of the monasteries and most of the libraries, music and art of medieval England now looks what it always was – not a religious breakthrough, but a cultural calamity.

How a nation deals with its past, especially the dark periods of its past, is, as Noonan indicates, an important test of its honesty and humility. The United States certainly has periods it has to deal with honestly and forthrightly, and England, like any other nation, has others to deal with other than the English Reformation. Perhaps this detail of Sir Thomas More's Chain of Esses--which was not really taken from him, but which he surrendered upon his resignation as Lord Chancellor, when he saw the dark era England was about to enter--could be a sign that England has faced the injustice of his execution and acknowledged it. Let's hope so!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Walsingham and Newman in Kansas City!

Everything's up to date in Kansas City! Including this great news from the National Catholic Register:

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., is set to become the home of Christ College, a new Catholic liberal arts school inspired by the thought of Blessed John Henry Newman.

“He’s really the guiding intellectual light of what we’re trying to do,” Brinton Smith, president of the Walsingham Society of Christian Culture and Western Civilization, told EWTN News on April 17.

“His work has been an inspiration, and we look to his The Idea of a University as one of our primary texts, in how we see things and what we’d like to accomplish as a Catholic liberal arts college.”

Christ College is a project of the Walsingham Society, which is based in Dallas. The college plans to lease space at the diocesan chancery in Kansas City, Mo., and begin with a pilot program this fall.

The pilot program would include a few courses, starting with Latin and theology, Smith said, and would be followed with the full curriculum being introduced to the freshman class in the fall of 2014.

Smith met the diocesan chancellor, Jude Huntz, at a conference on Anglicans who had converted to Catholicism. Huntz was enthusiastic about the prospect of a liberal arts college and introduced Smith to Bishop Robert Finn.

The mission of The Walsingham Society, which is NOT named for Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth I's spymaster, but for Our Lady of Walsingham, is:

to cultivate the minds and improve the lives and communities of its members through guided critical reading and discussion of the perennial truths found within the great books of the Western intellectual tradition. The canon of texts explored in our lectures, seminars, and tutorials resides within the disciplines of theology, philosophy, literature, music, art, and classical languages, each of which contains its own distinct mode of vision and knowing. The vision and knowledge of the great poets, scholars, and artists of the West provide foundational insights into beauty, goodness, and truth that are studied with love and passed down from tutor to student in a learning environment that is leisurely yet exhaustive.

THE WALSINGHAM SOCIETY has its mission the representation, on behalf of the great intellectual and imaginal tradition that has formed the Christian West, of those things true, beautiful, and good in a culture that accepts that truth is unknowable, beauty an illusion, and the pursuit of goodness an offense to the existing moral pluralism. The mission of the Society is rooted in an understanding of the nature and purpose of every person, which at its highest is to love and to enjoy as well to endure.

THE MOTTO of the Society is Caritas cum Consilio, Love with Understanding. The programs of the Society are based upon the conviction that the most important thing in this world is a person, hoping for goodness, seeking fulfillment according to the way he or she has been given. The Society’s success is measured by its ability to lift up the eye of the heart of those who share this adventure with us to the world of significance that lies beyond utility, in the precincts of truth, giving them access to the great tradition through the Great Books, and also through the art and music that is collateral to it.

As you might expect, according to the same National Catholic Register article linked above, "Many of the society’s members are Catholic converts from Episcopalianism and attend Masses of Anglican use or through the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter." The college in Kansas City will begin with Latin and theology as a pilot program and then blossom into the full Liberal Arts curriculum in the fall of 2014. Sounds like a great idea of a university!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Regine Pernoud Would Agree!

Regine Pernoud wrote the book shown above, published by Ignatius Press and translated by Anne Englund Nash, and she would agree with Stephen Cooper, who "argues that we should resist using ‘medieval’ as another word for backward." He goes on to outline what we should know about the medieval period, especially the 15th century, in his article titled "Positively Medieval" in History Today:

The work of the late Dom David Knowles showed that monasticism was far from corrupt and decadent, although the heroism and austerity of the High Middle Ages may have been lost. Eamon Duffy has demonstrated that religion was thriving at parish level. In The Practice of Kingship Jeremy Catto argues that most 15th-century bishops were graduates, learned men who were both efficient administrators and conscientious diocesans. As for the origins of Protestantism, McFarlane was sceptical that these were to be found in the Lollard heresy. He showed that this had been rooted out of Oxford and respectable society by the time of the Lollard rebellion known as Oldcastle’s Revolt (1414). It survived, though tenaciously, among country ‘bumpkins’ only. By implication the origins of the Reformation lay not in the decline of the medieval Church but in the difficult family life of Henry VIII.

We can see for ourselves, in the glories of Perpendicular architecture in the parish churches, cathedrals, the abbeys, chantry chapels and collegiate churches and in the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge, that the Church was by no means in decline in the 15th century. On the contrary, there was a flowering of piety, especially lay piety. Men were building and re-building to the glory of God and for the benefit of their souls, right down to the Reformation. What changed, when that came, was doctrine and fashion. The abbeys and the chantries were torn down because men had ceased to believe in the notion of Purgatory, at least officially, though their late medieval ancestors (apart from the Lollards) had taken this so seriously.

In secular architecture it was traditionally the Tudor period that saw the transition from castle to manor house; W.G. Hoskins popularised the idea of a ‘Great Rebuilding’ of more humble dwellings between 1550 and 1640. Yet this does not mean that there was no rebuilding in the 15th century. A later building may obscure an earlier one. Take Richard Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick (1382-1439), father-in-law of that quintessential ‘medieval’ figure, Warwick the Kingmaker. He built or rebuilt castles and manor houses at Warwick, Hanley, Drayton Basset, Elmsley, Caversham and Hanslope and, when he died in 1439, he was buried in a magnificent tomb in St Mary’s Church in Warwick. This has a bronze effigy and weepers, the work of a Flemish master, just as beautiful and impressive as the much better known ‘Renaissance’ effigy of Henry VII by Torrigiano in Westminster Abbey. Yet, according to traditional chronology, Warwick is a ‘medieval’ figure, while Henry VII is ‘early modern’. In fact, there are wonderful 15th-century timber and plaster buildings everywhere one looks in England, but we have become accustomed to describe these as ‘Tudor’.

In literature, we have been taught that Geoffrey Chaucer (c.1343-1400) was a genius, but John Lydgate (c.1370-c.1451) was a dunce; and that the whole of the 15th century, at least before the advent of the printing press, was a fallow period. Yet in his own day men enjoyed Lydgate and rated him. Henry V and his brothers, Bedford and Gloucester, were all bibliophiles; and there is a good case for saying that English Humanism began in the 15th, rather than in the 16th, century (see Daniel Wakelin’s Humanism, Reading and English Literature 1450-1530). In law, we have been taught to think that ‘medieval’ means backward and ‘modern’ means advanced; but it is in the works of Sir John Fortescue (c.1394-1476) that we find the classic statement that torture is contrary to the common law of England, while in the 17th century the state used it routinely, at least so far as Catholic conspirators were concerned.

"We were taught," "we have been taught"--when Cooper uses such phrases in the article, the traditional Whig is being knocked askew yet again. That old Whig view, espoused by historians like David Hume and James Froude in Scotland and England, and adopted by the Enlightenment philosophes of France, that the Middle Ages were the Dark Ages, worthy of nothing but ridicule, avoided by historians because of their superstition, papistry, and obscurity--it's still with us today. Think of William Manchester's A World Lit Only by Fire, which even Thomas Cahill notes is filled with Anti-Catholic prejudice and "one howler after another" (see Cahill's Mysteries of the Middle Ages, which demonstrates some of his own unexamined prejudies with a ridiculous emphasis on attacking George W. Bush and promoting "Voice of the Faithful" and "Call to Action").

Pernoud's slender volume is filled with almost Chestertonian paradoxes: one of the most memorable to me now is that she contrasts medieval Gothic and renaissance Classicism in architecture by noting that the architects, even though anonymous in the Middle Ages, innovated in developing the soaring perpendicular Gothic cathedrals: renaissance architects copied the architecture of Greece and Rome. I enjoyed Pernoud's debunking of the myths (the same myths Manchester repeated and Cahill regretted); I enjoyed her book on Women in the Age of the Cathedrals even more.

I was reading it on an airplane years ago, and another (female) passenger expressed some deprecatory interest--"I expect there's not much to say about women in those days, since we were so oppressed". You might anticipate my reply (but I'll tell you anyway)--"Au contraire; you should read Pernoud's book: you would discover how much economic and intellectual freedom women had in the Middle Ages!" I doubt she read the book, don't you?. Someday, I hope these old Whig ideas will be completely debunked and exposed, but it will take a long time for the easy prejudgements Pernod describes in Those Terrible Middle Ages and I experienced in the late twentieth century to be replaced by more thoughtful appreciation of an essential period of European history.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

April 20th in 1534, 1584, 1586, and 1602

A digest of last year's posts on this date:

On April 20, 1534, Elizabeth Barton, the Nun of Kent, was executed at Tyburn, London, along with monks and priests named as her co-conspirators.

In Father Philip Hughes' A Popular History of the Reformation, he provides an excellent chronological narrative of events, describing the influence of the Lutheran Reformation in England before Henry VIII's Break from Rome. He then traces the events leading up to the Break, the Reformation Parliament and "the deed of blood" that was a turning point:

The deed of blood was the condemnation by attainder (i.e., by an act of Parliament, without any trial) and the execution at Tyburn of "the Nun of Kent" and four priests condemned as her accomplices. "We now enter on a period which is happily unique in the annals of England, a period of terror. It lasts from [1534 to 1540]. --quoting H.A.L. Fisher's History of England from the Accession of Henry VII to the Death of Henry VIII (1918).

I was impressed by the quotation Father Hughes selected and the use of the term "period of terror" like the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution. As Father Hughes goes on to comment by April 20, 1534 Sir Thomas More and John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester are imprisoned--even though they escaped being included in the attainder because of their contact with Elizabeth Barton.

Blessed James Bell and Blessed John Finch were martyred in Lancaster on April 20, 1584:

When condemned and sentenced Blessed James Bell said to the Judge: "I beg your Lordship would add to the sentence that my lips and the tops of my fingers may be cut off, for having sworn and subscribed to the articles of heretics contrary both to my conscience and to God's Truth"--because he had conformed to the Church of England for a time. The priest was hung, drawn, and quartered, while the layman Finch was hung to death. They were both beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1929.

Blessed Richard Sargent and Blessed William Thomson both have a connection to St. Anne Line, and were both hung, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn in London on April 20, 1586--they are among the 85 Martyrs of England and Wales beatified by Blessed Pope John Paul II in 1987.

Blessed Thomas Tichborne, Blessed Robert Watkinson, and Blessed Francis Page (another connection to St. Anne Line, as he was the priest ready to celebrate Mass when pursuivants broke into the safe house Anne Line managed for Father John Gerard, SJ) were all executed at Tyburn on April 20, 1602. They also were beatified in 1987.

I don't know what overall significance we should ascribe to this coincidence that seven beatified martyrs and six attainted conspirators against the monarch's religious and marital policies all died on April 20 in four different years. The links among St. Anne Line, Blessed Francis Page, Blessed Richard Sargent, and Blessed William Thomson certainly make sense: the recusant Catholic community was small and connected through the underground system of safe houses, etc.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Sir Colin Davis, RIP

Before the English Reformation and the Catholic Martyrs of England and Wales became my main focus of attention, classical music and opera were my passions. The death of Sir Colin Davis on Sunday, April 14, really struck me, primarily because he conducted two of my favorite recordings--two very different works:

This Philips Silver Line recording of Mozart's Requiem is a great performance of this unfinished work (the Sussmayer edition). The BBC Symphony Orchestra, John Alldis Choir, and the soloists, including Helen Donath, all follow Davis's lead in this dynamic, dramatic, and grand performance. Some of the sections of the Dies Irae--the Lacrimosa, the Rex Tremendae, the Confutatis, are just brilliantly exciting and moving. Davis makes the contrasts of the Day of Wrath completely evident.

I have listened to this 1980 opera recording of Von Stade and Carreras so often that I've nearly memorized it. It was made after performances at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and that stage background shows in the drama and passion, restraint and lyricism of von Stade's performance especially. She is certainly not Goethe's Lotte, cutting bread as Werther's body passes. After all the romanticism and restraint of Acts 1 through 3 (even with Charlotte's break down aria, "Va! laisse couler mes larmes"), Davis, Von Stade, and Carreras certainly help us suspend our disbelief that a man who just shot himself can sing for 15 minutes! (You can see Von Stade and Alfredo Kraus in this video from the Met in 1988 just to see how it's done onstage.)

May Sir Colin Davis rest in peace.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Lady Margaret Thatcher, RIP

Paul Kengor writes about the Iron Lady, Lady Thatcher in The Catholic World Report:

Margaret Thatcher, one of the greatest leaders of the Cold War, of the 20th century, and of British history, has died at the age of 87.

I’ve referred to her as one of my Cold War seven: Ronald Reagan, John Paul II, Mikhail Gorbachev, Lech Walesa, Vaclav Havel, Boris Yeltsin, and Margaret Thatcher. They were the seven figures who dissolved an Evil Empire, and only Walesa and Gorbachev still remain with us.
The world dubbed her the Iron Lady, a title that duly fits. Many, however, mistake the Iron Lady moniker as referring solely to her strength in the Cold War. There was much more to it. Consider:

Margaret Thatcher is arguably the most complete British leader of the last 100 years, surpassing even Winston Churchill. Like Churchill, she was tough and successful in foreign policy, taking on and vanquishing totalitarian evil. Churchill warned the world as the Iron Curtain descended across Europe. Decades later, the world celebrated as the Iron Lady helped break the Iron Curtain.

But unlike Churchill, Margaret Thatcher had enormous domestic successes that Churchill couldn’t touch, and didn’t dare try to touch. When World War II closed, the British people booted Churchill from the prime ministership in preference of Labour leader Clement Attlee, who gave the British populace Keynesian socialism. The masses wanted their welfare state, and Attlee, equipped with promises of “change” and “forward,” gave them a fundamental transformation. In no time, Attlee’s party was spending money unlike anything Britain had ever seen, nationalizing everything under the sun, including with the progressive left’s coup de grace: government healthcare. It was a giant government binge that would bury Britain for decades.

John O'Sullivan titled his 2006 book about the triumvirate of Reagan, Thatcher and Pope John Paul II, The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister: Three Who Changed the World. The American Spectator has this 2007 review in its archives:

OTHER WRITERS HAVE NOTED the timely emergence of an American president, a Polish pope, and a British prime minister in the late 1970s and early 1980s and their critical role in leading the West to a peaceful resolution of the Cold War. But it has remained for the Anglo-American journalist and editor John O’Sullivan to write the definitive history of how Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, and Margaret Thatcher worked together, openly and not so openly, to bring about what most experts agreed was impossible — the swift dissolution of the Soviet Union and Marxism-Leninism.

To write such a multi-faceted story, you would want a polymath: an American familiar with Reagan’s special genius for combining principle and pragmatism, a Brit who could explain how Thatcher became the first woman prime minister in British history, and a Roman Catholic who understood why the Soviets were so worried about the impact of a Polish pope on their empire. You would seek someone with a keen historical sense and a flair for biography — and the ability to integrate smoothly the myriad accomplishments of three major figures of our times. If this paragon also had a smooth, accessible writing style, that would be a heaven-sent bonus. It would be impossible, of course, to find someone who could do all of the above-unless you could persuade John O’Sullivan to write The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister, his first but not I hope last book.

O’Sullivan begins his admirable study by making the arresting point that the times seemed to have by-passed Reagan, Thatcher, and Karol Wojtyla, who embodied such seemingly “fading” virtues as faith, self-reliance, and patriotism. But the unexpected death of the Italian John Paul I led to the election of the Polish John Paul II in 1978; Jimmy Carter’s monumental ineptitude at home and abroad prepared the way for a conservative alternative in Reagan in 1980; and Britain’s accelerating economic decline coupled with a series of often violent strikes in the winter of 1978-79 brought the country to the edge of anarchy. Thatcher offered a strong purgative — economic liberty, traditional Christian values, patriotism, and a strong attachment to the United States and like-minded nations — and in May 1979 was elected prime minister. . .

In summing up the individual and collective achievements of the president, the pope, and the prime minister, O’Sullivan states that Reagan won the Cold War without firing a shot; revived the U.S. economy, which went on to enjoy more than 20 years of consecutive economic growth; restored the spirit of America; and established a “new conservative dominance in American politics” based on small government and low taxes.

John Paul II, besides helping bring down the Soviet empire, bequeathed to Pope Benedict XVI a Catholic Church that was large, growing fast (particularly in the Third World), and becoming more orthodox. According to O’Sullivan, Thatcher’s reputation is higher in the rest of the world than in Britain, but even in her native land the Iron Lady’s policies that defeated inflation, restored British industry, and helped win the Cold War are “almost universally regarded as correct.” Still she bears the burden of the vehement opposition and even hatred they aroused, especially among the liberal intelligentsia.

I heard an interview with O'Sullivan on the Son Rise Morning Show yesterday, and he emphasized that President Reagan was the link between Pope John Paul II and Prime Minister Thatcher: she did not deal as directly, or as often with the Pope as Reagan did. He also commented that Lady Thatcher was an Anglican much influenced by Methodism, in which she was raised. In 1978, Lady Thatcher talked to the editor of The Catholic Herald about her religious practice:

“Methodism isn’t just a religion for Sundays – no faith is only a faith for Sundays. There were a lot of things during the week which one attended. Methodism is a pretty practical faith; there were the mothers’ sewing meetings and the guilds for young people.

“It’s also evangelical, and does a lot of missionary work overseas. The visiting missionaries, some of them from South America, some from Africa and India, would come back and tell you of the kind of work they were doing.

“I must say I was very much attracted to the work they did because they really could see results.”

Although she was married to Denis Thatcher 27 years ago in Wesley’s own chapel in the City of London, she has since moved towards Anglicanism and I asked her about this shift.

“You know, John Wesley would of course say that he was a member of the Church of England, and the service he believed in was the Church of England service; but it was too high for the kind of evangelical work he was doing.

“Methodism is the most marvellous evangelical faith and there is the most marvellous love and feeling for music in the Methodist Church which I think is greater than in the Anglican Church. But you sometimes feel the need for a slightly more formal service and perhaps a little bit more formality in the underlying theology too.

“So throughout my life I have felt the need for both things, to some extent for the informality, for the works you do; but always I found myself groping out for more of the actual teaching of the religious basis. As I say, I went for something a little more formal. I suppose it’s first one’s belief and then one’s background.”

May she rest in peace.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The New Archbishop of Canterbury: Justin Welby

With all the shock and surprise of Benedict XVI's renunciation of the Papacy and Pope Francis' election to the Papacy, I have quite overlooked the installation of the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. The American Spectator describes his background in this article and touches on some surprising facts:

This is why Archbishop Welby looks so interesting: He is an authentic Anglican evangelical, homegrown from the 21st century’s most successful outreach movement, known as HTB-Alpha. It began 30 years ago at Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) in West London, the mega-church that welcomed Welby at a dark time in his life, when he and his wife were devastated by the loss of their first born child, 7-month-old Johanna, killed in a Paris car accident.

“It is in our pain and in our brokenness that we come the closest to Christ,” said Martin Luther. His words have a resonance with Archbishop Welby’s spiritual journey. At the time of his daughter’s death, he was a rising star in the oil industry, finance director and treasurer of the FTSE 100 company Enterprise Oil. He loved the buzz of acquisitions and mergers. But as he nursed his wounds in bereavement, Welby heard God’s call. A talk at HTB by one of the leaders of the U.S. Vineyard Churches, John McClure, inspired him to seek training for ordination. This was not an easy path, for his local bishop rejected Welby as a candidate, saying he had “no future in the Church of England.” But the influential vicar of HTB, the Rev. Sandy Millar, persuaded his parishioner to keep knocking on the door of the ordained ministry, and eventually Welby was accepted for training at St. John’s College, Durham. . . .

ARCHBISHOP WELBY is proud of his HTB roots, but he should not be simplistically pigeonholed. He has a Catholic spiritual director. He spent some years working in Nigeria, which has given him an understanding of the African provinces in the Anglican Communion. They are ultra-conservative in comparison to many liberal American and English churches, and Welby will need to work hard to prevent quarrels and schisms within his international flock. Fortunately he seems well-equipped for this and for the even greater challenges that lie ahead of him.

He also has a background in business, having had a secular career before becoming an Anglican minister and bishop. Justin Welby certainly does face a great many challenges trying to hold the Anglican Communion and the Church of England together. It is interesting to note that the Archbishop of Canterbury is "enthroned":

First, the Archbishop will be installed on the Diocesan throne as the Bishop of the see of Canterbury, the oldest diocese in the English church. He will then be installed on the chair of St Augustine as Primate of All England – the ‘first bishop’ in the country. This latter enthronement has also come to respresent the Archbishop's inauguration as the spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

And, according to that same page, it's interesting to note the date chosen for Justin Welby's enthronement:

The date of the ceremony resonates in several ways: March 21st is the day when the church remembers the martyrdom of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1556. It is also the feast day of St. Benedict of Monte Cassino, a significant figure for both Canterbury Cathedral and Archbishop Justin himself, who is an oblate of the Order of Benedict.

Pope Francis sent him a message and the Archbishop commented on Pope Francis' installation as Pope.

Monday, April 15, 2013

"The Most Controversial" Robert Persons, SJ

Robert Persons SJ
In 2010, Father Thomas McCoog, SJ, published this article in the online journal of the British Jesuits, Thinking Faith:

On 15 April 2010, the 400th anniversary of the death of Robert Persons, arguably the most controversial Englishman to enter the Society of Jesus, passed without much fanfare. On Thinking Faith, Joe Egerton did indeed pay homage to Persons as he applied principles from the Jesuit’s writings to contemporary political situations, and also drew attention to a persistent preference for Edmund Campion over Persons, his religious superior on the English mission.

For the Elizabethan government, for some Catholic contemporaries and for a few subsequent historians, Persons exemplified the Jesuit of myth and legend. A secular priest, William Watson, himself executed in 1603 for alleged involvement in a plot against King James I, lamented the establishment of an uncommon ecclesiastical structure, the archpresbyterate. The archpriest exercised jurisdiction over the diocesan clergy within England, but according to the regulations, on matters of importance he could not act without prior consultation of the Jesuit superior. Watson complained: ‘For whereas now all Catholikes must depend upon the Archpriest, & the Archpriest upon father Garnet, & Garnet upon Persons, & Persons upon the devel, (the author of all rebellious conspiracies, treasons, murthers, disobedience, heresies, & all such other diabolicall & bloudy designements, as this wicked Iesuit hath hitherto devised) then and in what case this dependency had bin utterly void.’ (A Decacordon of Ten Quodlibeticall Questions concerning Religion and State [N.p. (London), 1602] pp. 150-51).

McCoog describes Persons' mission to England with St. Edmund Campion and points out some interesting contrasts:

Persons was the driving force behind the English mission from its inauguration in 1580 to his death in 1610. For 30 years, he courted earthly powers, wrote masterpieces of controversial literature, adapted Ignatian spirituality for English Catholic (and Protestant) readers, solicited funds for colleges and seminarians, and infiltrated Elizabeth’s court. One may well ask if Campion would have been up to the task if he had survived and Persons been martyred.

Practically from his admission into the Society of Jesus in Rome, Robert Persons retained contact with other Englishmen and campaigned for Jesuit involvement on the English mission. Campion, meanwhile, showed little if any concern for his native land. Indeed, his friend Gregory Martin accused him of forgetting England altogether once he had entered the Society. Collaborating with William, later Cardinal, Allen, Persons finally succeeded in persuading a reluctant Father General Everard Mercurian to seize the opportunity provided by the qualified religious tolerance that would follow the marriage/alliance of Queen Elizabeth and Francis de Valois, Duke of Anjou. Persons volunteered for the mission; Campion was selected. Campion admitted more than once that only obedience motivated him.

And the rest of the article continues to illuminate Father Persons' efforts to support the Jesuit mission to England. Fascinating.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

"Be Not Afraid" by Blessed John Henry Newman

This was yesterday's meditation in the Magnificat prayer magazine, from Blessed John Henry Newman's sermon on "Christian Manhood":

Doubt not, then, His power to bring you through any difficulties, who gives you the command to encounter them. He has showed you the way; He gave up the home of His mother Mary to "be about His Father's business," and now He but bids you take up after Him the cross which He bore for you, and "fill up what is wanting of His afflictions in your flesh." Be not afraid,—it is but a pang now and then, and a struggle; a covenant with your eyes, and a fasting in the wilderness, some calm habitual watchfulness, and the hearty effort to obey, and all will be well. Be not afraid. He is most gracious, and will bring you on by little and little. He does not show you whither He is leading you; you might be frightened did you see the whole prospect at once. Sufficient for the day is its own evil. Follow His plan; look not on anxiously; look down at your present footing "lest it be turned out of the way," but speculate not about the future. I can well believe that you have hopes now, which you cannot give up, and even which support you in your present course. Be it so; whether they will be fulfilled, or not, is in His hand. He may be pleased to grant the desires of your heart; if so, thank Him for His mercy; only be sure, that all will be for your highest good, and "as thy days, so shall thy strength be. There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in His excellency on the sky. The Eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." [Deut. xxxiii. 25-27.] He knows no variableness, neither shadow of turning; and when we outgrow our childhood, we but approach, however feebly, to His likeness, who has no youth nor age, who has no passions, no hopes, nor fears, but who loves truth, purity, and mercy, and who is supremely blessed, because He is supremely holy.

A New Historical Novel: Treason: A Catholic Novel of Elizabethan England

An acquaintance, Rich Leonardi, who reviewed Supremacy and Survival: How Catholics Endured the English Reformation when it first came out, contacted me about this new novel, just released last month by Sophia Institute Press: Treason: A Catholic Novel of Elizabethan England. As Sophia describes the plot of this historical novel:

As Stephen Long steps ashore in England one gray dawn in May 1581, he wonders how many more Catholics will have to die to make Queen Elizabeth feel secure. Involuntarily, he trembles at the thought that soon he may be numbered among them.

For in the days ahead, each time Stephen hears confession or celebrates Mass, he commits yet another act of high treason against the British Crown, for which Queen Elizabeth’s swift penalty is gruesome torture and painful death. As Stephen hastens to find shelter away from that open beach, he struggles not only with fear but with doubt, as well: “Is my mission foolish? Am I nothing more than fresh meat for the queen’s butchers?”

In the light of that same gray dawn, just a few miles north, a heartbroken Caroline Wingate lies awake in her unhappy marriage bed, wrestling with thoughts of a different—perhaps crueler—martyrdom.

Although from her earliest years Caroline has known herself to be called to cloistered contemplative life as a nun, some years ago she was forced by her father into a politically “safe” marriage with an upright Protestant, from whom she must hide her Catholicism—and her true vocation—lest she, too, be executed for her faith.

Hanging by the neck is swift martyrdom, but Caroline’s doubts and guilt have pained her daily for years now. An exile in her own soul, in her lonely desolation she confesses, “I don’t love my husband as I should. For safety’s sake, I cannot give myself wholly to him and must deceive him daily. Nor can I give myself to the One I truly love.”

In a few days, circumstances will force Caroline and the young priest together. With death hastening toward both of them, the beautiful fates of these two faithful Catholics confirm what we today too often forget: our faith is the most powerful force in the world—more powerful than politics, wars, or empires. More powerful even than the hard, cold will of Queen Elizabeth.

In this gripping, heartrending tale, Caroline and Stephen show us that it’s not power that writes the true history of the world; it’s faith: faith and the love that faith alone can awaken and sustain.

I have written to the publisher to see if I may obtain a review copy. Watch this blog space for some follow up!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Local History: Servant of God Emil Kapaun and the Medal of Honor

I attended Kapaun-Mount Carmel High School (our school mascot is the Crusader!), the east side co-educational school here in Wichita, Kansas. Before its founding in 1971, there had been two high schools: Chaplain Kapaun Memorial High School, a Jesuit preparatory school for young men established in 1956 and Mount Carmel Academy, a preparatory school for young women established in 1886 under the guidance of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Everyday in the rotunda of the high school, which was the building the Sisters of Charity had built on east Central, I passed by the display honoring Chaplain Emil Kapaun and the mosaic of Our Lady of Kansas.

Father Kapaun's cause for sainthood is being sponsored by the Diocese of Wichita and the website is here. Yesterday, April 11, Father Emil Kapaun was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Our local newspaper, The Wichita Eagle, has been very involved in the Father Kapaun story, producing a series of articles, a television special, and even a new book, all about Father Kapaun. This site consolidates the material from the series and reports about the Medal of Honor ceremony.

It's fascinating to be witnessing this process of honoring the namesake of my high school alma mater. I remember reading comments that Servant of God Kapaun should be canonized as a martyr--many of those who saw him taken by the Chinese to their "hospital", which was really a death house, believed he was being punished for his Christian witness in the POW camp. Because there are no witnesses to his death, however, the cause being pursued is for his beatification and canonization as a confessor.

Lord Jesus, in the midst of the folly of war,
your servant, Chaplain Emil Kapaun spent himself
in total service to you on the battlefields and
in the prison camps of Korea, until his
death at the hands of his captors.

We now ask you, Lord Jesus, if it be your will,
to make known to all the world the holiness
of Chaplain Kapaun and the glory of his
complete sacrifice for you by signs of
miracles and peace.

In your name, Lord, we ask, for you are the
source of peace, the strength of our
service to others, and our final hope.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Travel Highlight: St. Elizabeth of Hungary

My husband and I travelled to the Ozarks to celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary last weekend. We stayed at the Big Cedar Lodge outside Branson, and left that sanctuary of rest and relaxation to drive to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. There we visited the Crescent Hotel and then crossed the street to this fascinating church, St. Elizabeth of Hungary. The parish church was originally built as a memorial chapel and then expanded, with two architectural styles combined. The memorial chapel is byzantine, while the nave and sanctuary are romanesque-gothic.

The church is unique because you enter through the bell tower and descend to the church.

The interior of the original chapel is dominated by a great crystal chandelier, a late 20th century gift.

And here is a view of the nave and sanctuary--there is a balcony (you can see the rails to the left and right) with additional seating so that the church has room for 200 worshippers.

The statuary in the church came from the former parish church dedicated to the Sacred Heart and a hospital, Hotel Dieu, while the benefactor, Richard Kerens (who had built the original chapel in memory of his mother) imported many fine furnishings, according to the parish website:

The existing chapel became the vestibule of the church, with all the exterior construction material of dolomite limestone supplied by local quarries. Kerens imported marble altars and mosaic flooring from Italy. Paintings depicting the Stations of the Cross were donated by the parishioners. Four pieces of statuary taken from the Sacred Heart Church and Hotel Dieu – statues of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and two kneeling angels – were moved to the new Church. These fine pieces of turn-of-the-century statuary still have their home in the interior of the church today.

Here's a picture, taken with my cellphone camera (my husband took the other pictures either with his Canon or Fuji) of one of the Stations of the Cross, which are sometimes combined with the Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary:

Here's some more detail about the church, addressing its architectural uniqueness. Catholics are a minority in Arkansas (only 6% of the population) so a beautiful church like this, with such care and devotion on display throughout its small footprint--the grounds contain additional statuary and a lovely view of the residential area surrounding the church--is really a blessing.

You can see the Crescent Hotel to the left in the photo above. St. Elizabeth of Hungary, pray for us!