Sunday, June 30, 2013

Book Preview: Newman and His Family

I reviewed Edward Short's first book on Blessed John Henry Newman, Newman and His Contemporaries, last year. His second book is due out on August 15--the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. According to the publisher:

A study in family history and influence, Newman and his Family looks at how John Henry Newman (1801-90), the priest, educator, theologian, philosopher, novelist, poet and satirist both learned from and was transformed by his parents and his brothers and sisters. The son of a banker in the City of London and a Huguenot mother whose family were famous and innovative paper makers and printers, Newman was the eldest of six children, two boys and three girls--Charles, Harriett, Frank, Jemima and Mary. While the family was reared Anglican, Charles abandoned Christianity for Owenite Socialism and Frank ended his days a Unitarian. Although Mary died young, she had a profound influence on her brother, as did Harriett, who could never reconcile herself to her brother’s conversion. Jemima was also opposed to his conversion, though she lived long enough to witness (from afar) his strange, tumultuous new life as a Catholic. At the same time, since none of the family followed their eldest brother into the Catholic Church, to which Newman converted in 1845, the book also explores the limitations of Newman’s influence and the ways in which family differences led him to a deeper understanding of such themes as home and ostracism, failure and faith, conversion and apostasy, disunity and prayer, infirmity and love.

Based on Newman’s vast correspondence and the correspondence of his different family members, as well as on his published and unpublished writings, Newman and his Family presents the great religious thinker in a freshly personal light, where he can be seen sharing his theological and philosophical convictions directly with those to whom he was most closely tied. While there are excellent studies available on different aspects of Newman and his work, this is the first full-length study to show how the difficulties and heartbreaks inherent in family life helped Newman to understand not only himself and his contemporaries but his deeply personal Christian faith.

Table of Contents: Introduction/ 1. Father and Son/ 2. Mrs. Newman and Amor Matris/ 3. Charles Newman and the Idea of Socialism/ 4. Frank Newman and the Search for Truth/ 5. Mary Newman and the World to Come/ 6. Harriet Newman and English Anti-Romanism/ 7. Jemima Newman and the Misery of Difference/ 8. James Rickards Mozley and Late Victorian Scepticism/ Conclusion: Family, Faith and Love

More about the author and his work here. I look forward to reading this book! (The author has kindly offered to send me a review copy.)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Concert Not to Be Missed!--But I'll Miss It!!

The New Liturgical Movement blog highlights this concert:

A concert not to be missed: 'Splendours of Venice' is an opportunity to hear the Choir of Westminster Cathedral join forces with His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts in a celebration of choral and instrumental music by composers with strong Venetian associations. Monteverdi, Giovanni Gabrieli, Croce, Merulo, Hassler, Grillo, Frescobaldi and Guami are all represented, and Motets in 4, 8, 12 and 16 parts are interspersed with movements from Monteverdi's Mass (published in 1651), his five-part Beatus vir and eight-part Magnificat. Westminster Cathedral is the perfect setting, its Byzantine styling very much a visual echo of San Marco, and the siting of singers in the galleries and the use of the Cathedral's organs will provide dramatic effect.

Full programme:

Iubilate Deo, Giovanni Gabrieli
Gloria (1651 Mass), Monteverdi
Toccata quarta del secondo tuono (Primo libro), Merulo
Beatus vir, Monteverdi
Canzon Terza à 8, Grillo
In spiritu humilitatis, Croce
Hassler Canzon Duodecimitoni à 8, Hassler
Sanctus (1651 Mass), Monteverdi
Toccata Cromaticha per l'Elevatione (Messa della Domenica - Fiori Musicali), Frescobaldi
Agnus Dei (1651 Mass), Monteverdi
O sacrum convivium, Hassler
Canzon La Lucchesina à 8, Guami
Magnificat a 8, Monteverdi
Canzon Terza à 6, Giovanni Gabrieli
Plaudite omnis terra, Giovanni Gabrieli
Omnes gentes plaudite, Giovanni Gabrieli

Friday, June 28, 2013

Around the World with the Wichita Public Library

My husband and I have vicariously visited four European capitals in the past couple of weeks: Paris, London, Rome, and Prague--via Naxos Musical Journey DVDs combining video of famous sights in each city with appropriate classical music. We thought two were very effective and two less effective. We have been to all but one of the cities, Prague.

The DVD on Paris, which also includes Chantilly, Versailles, and Chartres, was one of the effective presentations, with scenes from all the famous sights, including Notre Dame, the Musee D'Orsay, Sacre Coeur, etc, and of families in the parks at Luxembourg, the interior of Le Train Bleu in the Gare de Lyon (we ate dinner there twice on business trips to Paris). Good detail in Chantilly, Versailles, and Chartres, too. The music ranges from Marais to Wagner; Mozart to Satie; Meyerbeer to Puccini--all appropriately chosen for the venue and choreography of the video presentation.

The DVD on Rome we thought less effective, primarily because the video concentrated so much on street scenes, the Spanish Steps (we thought we'd never stop seeing them), and did not even visit all four major basilicas in Rome--no St. Mary Major, St. Paul Outside the Walls or St. John Lateran at all. The views of the Roman Forum were effective. The musical selections were great, however:

The music here included is all associated in one way or another with Rome and its traditions. It ranges from the overture to Mozart's Roman opera La clemenza di Tito to Wagner's Tannhäuser, whose hero seeks pardon for his sins in the Eternal City, from Puccini's opera Tosca, set in Rome dominated by a corrupt chief of police, to Berlioz's evocation of the city in the age of Benevenuto Cellini, his Roman Carnival Overture.

Again, the DVD for London we thought was great: lots of sights, including both Westminster Cathedral and Westminster Abbey and the bonus of Oxford, including Christ Church and Christ Church Cathedral. The music was beautiful, with many selections from the Enigma Variations by Elgar, including "Nimrod" during the scenes of Christ Church. The Verdi selection was interesting--the chorus of the Scottish Exiles from Macbeth (accompanying images of the Tower of London). The video ends with a bang: fireworks and Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks!

But the DVD for Prague seemed a little dull--not even a good view of the Charles Bridge! The video did include many beautiful scenes along the river and of countryside and parks--and again, the music was great:

The music included here is associated in one way or another with Prague or Bohemia. It includes works by the Bohemian composers Smetana and Dvořák, by the Moravian composer Janáček, and by Fibich who, with Mozart, always found a ready welcome for his music in Prague.

There are more DVDs in the series, including Salzburg (lots of Mozart), Vienna, and Madrid, and DVDs that encompass highlights from the entire country, like Finland, Germany, and Uzbekistan, as well as two videos dedicated to regions of France, the chateaus of the Loire and Brittany & Normandy--the easy way to armchair travel, without luggage or crowds, or really being there!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

St. John Southworth, Martyr of Westminster

Father John Southworth came from a Lancashire family who lived at Samlesbury Hall. They chose to pay heavy fines rather than give up the Catholic faith.

He studied at the English College in Douai, now in northern France, (and then moved to Hertfordshire, St Edmunds College) and was ordained priest before he returned to England. Imprisoned and sentenced to death for professing the Catholic faith, he was later deported to France, with the help of Queen Henrietta Maria--he had at first been imprisoned with St. Edmund Arrowsmith in Lancaster and witnessed that martyr's death; then he was moved to The Clink in London and then exiled. Once more he returned to England and lived in Clerkenwell, London, during a plague epidemic, working along with St. Henry Morse. He assisted and converted the sick in Westminster and was arrested again.

He was again arrested under the Interregnum and was tried at the Old Bailey under Elizabethan anti-priest legislation . He pleaded guilty to exercising the priesthood and was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered. At his execution at Tyburn, London, he suffered the full pains of his sentence and was hanged, drawn and quartered. He was allowed to speak before his sentence was carried out. Among his last words:

“My faith and obedience to my superiors is all the treason charged against me; nay, I die for Christ’s law, which no human law, by whomsoever made, ought to withstand or contradict… To follow His holy doctrine and imitate His holy death, I willingly suffer at present; this gallows I look on as His Cross, which I gladly take to follow my Dear Saviour…I plead not for myself…but for you poor persecuted Catholics whom I leave behind me.

"My faith is my crime, the performance of my duty the occasion of my condemnation. I confess I am a great sinner; against God I have offended, but am innocent of any sin against man, I mean the Commonwealth, and the present Government."

The Venetian Secretary reported on his execution: he was hung, and was not dead when the executioner "cut out his heart and entrails and threw them into a fire kindled for the purpose, the body being quartered . . . Such is the inhuman cruelty used towards the English Catholic religious."

The Spanish ambassador returned his corpse to Douai for burial. His corpse was sewn together and parboiled, to preserve it. Following the French Revolution, his body was buried in an unmarked grave for its protection. The grave was discovered in 1927 and his remains were returned to England. They are now kept in the Chapel of St George and the English Martyrs in Westminster Cathedral in London. He was beatified in 1929. In 1970, he was canonized by Pope Paul VI as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. His feast day is 27 June but this is only celebrated in the Westminster diocese.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Requiem for Today?

When Colin Davis died earlier this year, I posted several movements from Mozart's Requiem on facebook, because I have enjoyed listening to his recording of Mozart's Requiem for years. Last month's BBC Music Magazine featured a free disc of Brahms' A German Requiem, which is not based upon the Catholic Mass at all, but upon texts Brahms selected from Luther's Bible. The booklet with the CD notes that Brahms wrote the Requiem after his mother's death, but that he did not believe in an afterlife at all. The Catholic Requiem Mass is offered for the repose of the soul of the deceased, but Brahms wrote for the consolation of the living, the surviving, mourning, relatives and friends of the deceased--there's no Judgment, and no resurrection of the dead, either; no Heaven or Hell.

Listening to Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem for the first time, I did not really hear the words, but the music is beautiful, so often serene. This site notes that the work did not succeed very well when performed in Catholic countries, but was accepted in England and the USA immediately:

Following the paradigm of reception that we have set up for Germany -- the fact that Catholic towns were far more resistant to the Requiem than their Protestant counterparts -- it comes as no surprise to learn that the Requiem was considerably better received in England and the United States than in Catholic countries such as France and Italy. Indeed, we have little documentation of any reception whatsoever in these countries; in England, on the other hand, reviews, commentary, and performances were abundant from 1871 onwards. There is some statistical disagreement about the number of performances of the Requiem in Europe during Brahms' lifetime: while Musgrave cites the figure of 79 performances outside Germany between 1869 and 1876, Kalbeck reports 85 performances between 1867 and 1876 [22]; in any event, the work was most certainly performed in most major European cities, and subject to repeats on demand on several occasions. In Britain, which had by far the strongest and most positive reception (as was typical for choral and religious music, Musgrave notes), the Requiem premiered in a private performance in London in July 1871, conducted by Julius Stockhausen himself, on one of his frequent visits to Sir Henry Thompson. The public premiere, also in London, was in April of 1873, and was the subject of great critical attention -- most of it quite positive. The work was immediately recognized as difficult, but esteemed at the same time as a work of a great composer, already seen as the successor in the German tradition of Bach and Beethoven. The only major criticism came from those who felt, like Hanslick's original commentary, that the concert hall was the wrong place for such a religious funeral service; others also echoed their Continental counterparts and claimed, alternately, that the work was either too "contemplative" or that it was "unemotional." The second public performance in Britain, in 1876, was similarly received: critics remarked in glowing terms of the great masterpiece, and the only major flaw, they felt, was that English singers were not well-trained to sing the contrapuntal German passages. Not surprisingly, when the London Bach Choir began performing the Requiem on a semi-regular basis, the reviewers raved: vocalists trained for Bach, they agreed, were by far the best-equipped to handle Brahms' difficult demands.

Because it does not pray for the dead or cover those issues of judgment and eternity, Brahms' work is very suited to a more secular age--note this story about the MIT community gathering to perform it after the Boston Marathon bombings:

Unlike other requiems, Brahms wrote his as a comfort for the living. That’s another reason why Buckley wanted to perform it. She said traditional requiems are based on the Latin Mass for the dead.

“One of those texts is about the day of judgment, the day of wrath. So they’re beautiful pieces of music — I mean who doesn’t love the Mozart Requiem? But I think that the Brahms is extra special,” Buckley said. “The connection to his mother is important, and the fact that he chose the text from Luther’s translation of the bible. He believed no text is in judgment of the dead.”

So plans for this massive singing event were set midweek.

Reading the texts Brahms selected does emphasize the comfort, peace and assurance Ein Deutsches Requiem offers--but I did see that he does mention the Resurrection of the Dead:

Behold, I show you a mystery:
We shall not all sleep,
but we all shall be changed
and suddenly, in a moment,
at the sound of the last trombone.
For the trombone shall sound,
and the dead shall be raised incorruptible,
and we shall be changed.
Then shall be fulfilled
The word that is written:
Death is swallowed up in victory.
O Death, where is thy sting?
O Hell, where is thy victory?

Fascinating. I'll have to listen to it again.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Dates in June, 1509 and 1529

In addition to being the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, yesterday was also the 504th anniversary of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon's coronation in 1509. They had been married in a quiet ceremony in the chapel at Greenwich on June 11.  It was also in June, 20 years later (on the 21st) that Catherine of Aragon appeared the legatine court to defend the validity of that wedding day and marriage.

I cannot help but think of the juxtaposition of these dates in June, separated by momentous years and events. In June of 1509, Catherine and Henry were wed and crowned; 20 years later Catherine appeared in a court to try the validity of her marriage; six years after that dramatic trial, one of her strongest defenders was executed when Bishop John Fisher opposed the king's supremacy.

Garrett Mattingly notes in his biography of Catherine of Aragon, "It is hard to imagine Henry and Catherine at their coronation. Their images are pale as ghosts beside their later selves . . ." In 1509, Henry was young, tall, an athlete with a ruddy round-cheeked face, while Catherine was fresh, delicate, sweet and winsome. As Mattingly notes, "The Londoners thought her bonny . . . Henry thought her bonnier than any."

But in 1509, the month of June was filled, as Mattingly comments, with festivity, music, laughter, and dancing. The reign of Henry the Eighth and Catherine of Aragon had begun. As this website notes, everyone had great hopes:

After the serious solemnity of the ceremony came the party. An enormous feast was enjoyed by all the guests in Westminster Hall and continued long into the night. Further celebrations spilled over into the following days and included, dancing, concerts and jousting. The new king, Henry VIII, had not disappointed. He had confirmed the guests’ belief that this gregarious Prince knew how to celebrate like a King.

The poet, and former tutor of Henry, John Skelton, produced poetry to be read or sung during the celebrations. Skelton’s writing demonstrated that he believed the new King would always be fair and protect his people. However, the full extent of the joy experienced by the English on this day is beautifully surmised by a letter sent from Lord Mountjoy to the renowned Dutch Scholar, Erasmus: “Heaven and earth rejoices, everything is full of milk and honey and nectar. Avarice has fled the country. Our King is not after gold, or gems, or precious metals, but virtue, glory, immortality.”

This was unquestionably the feeling of the King as well as his people, for Henry was already looking towards the legend of King Arthur and the example of his own ancestor (and victor at the battle of Agincourt), Henry V, for his Royal inspiration.

And without doubt Henry’s need for glory and immortality would change England forever.
On June 21, 1529, a Papal Legatine court was held to determine the issue of Henry VIII’s request to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and Cardinal Campeggio (the Cardinal Protector of England and Legate) from Rome convened the court at Blackfriar’s but Catherine circumvented their plans by speaking directly to Henry, asking for his mercy, and protesting at the unfairness of the proceedings.

In Shakespeare’s play, The Famous History of the Life of King Henry the Eight, she says:

Sir, I desire you do me right and justice;
And to bestow your pity on me: for
I am a most poor woman, and a stranger,
Born out of your dominions; having here
No judge indifferent, nor no more assurance
Of equal friendship and proceeding. Alas, sir,
In what have I offended you? what cause
Hath my behavior given to your displeasure,
That thus you should proceed to put me off,
And take your good grace from me?
Heaven witness,I have been to you a true and humble wife,
At all times to your will conformable;
Ever in fear to kindle your dislike,
Yea, subject to your countenance, glad or sorry
As I saw it inclined: when was the hour
I ever contradicted your desire,
Or made it not mine too? Or which of your friends
Have I not strove to love, although I knew
He were mine enemy? what friend of mine
That had to him derived your anger, did I
Continue in my liking? nay, gave notice
He was from thence discharged. Sir, call to mind
That I have been your wife, in this obedience,
Upward of twenty years, and have been blest
With many children by you: if, in the course
And process of this time, you can report,
And prove it too, against mine honour aught,
My bond to wedlock, or my love and duty,
Against your sacred person, in God's name,
Turn me away; and let the foul'st contempt
Shut door upon me, and so give me up
To the sharp'st kind of justice. Please you sir,
The king, your father, was reputed for
A prince most prudent, of an excellent
And unmatch'd wit and judgment: Ferdinand,
My father, king of Spain, was reckon'd one
The wisest prince that there had reign'd by many
A year before: it is not to be question'd
That they had gather'd a wise council to them
Of every realm, that did debate this business,
Who deem'd our marriage lawful: wherefore I humbly
Beseech you, sir, to spare me, till I may
Be by my friends in Spain advised; whose counsel
I will implore: if not, i' the name of God,
Your pleasure be fulfill'd!

Henry does not answer her; instead the two Cardinals and Catherine exchange comments about the fairness of the court and Wolsey’s influence on the king.

When she leaves the room, Henry does address her—his speech must reflect Catherine’s lingering popularity and good reputation in England in 1613 or so, when we know the play was performed at the Globe Theatre (a cannon shot caused the theatre to burn down!)

KING HENRY VIII Go thy ways, Kate:
That man i' the world who shall report he has
A better wife, let him in nought be trusted,
For speaking false in that: thou art, alone,
If thy rare qualities, sweet gentleness,
Thy meekness saint-like, wife-like government,
Obeying in commanding, and thy parts
Sovereign and pious else, could speak thee out,
The queen of earthly queens: she's noble born;
And, like her true nobility, she has
Carried herself towards me.

He then goes on to explain his doubts about the validity of their marriage, based in part upon the fact that Catherine never bore a son who survived the womb. This is of course incorrect, as their son Henry, Prince of Wales, died 52 days after birth on the lst of January 1511. Exactly as it occurred in 1529, the scene concludes with Cardinal Campegio declaring the court cannot proceed without Catherine present.

Anne Boleyn appears only briefly in the play and speaks in only one scene, also in very respectful tones about Catherine of Aragon. Anne Bullen, as she is billed, denies that she really wants to be queen herself, although her attendant (“Old Lady”) is cynical about that.

Shrewsbury Masses in Monastic Sites

On Saturday, June 8 and Sunday, June 23, Masses were celebrated during the Year of Faith in two former Catholic abbeys. On June 8, the Bishop of Shrewsbury celebrated Mass at Shrewsbury Abbey:

The Mass was arranged by the Shrewsbury deanery with the permission of the Church of England and was celebrated by the Rt Rev. Mark Davies, the Bishop of Shrewsbury.

The abbey was full to capacity as hundreds of local Catholics and about a dozen priests turned out for the event on a blazing Saturday afternoon.

The Mass began with the singing of the Te Deum, in which the congregation asked for the intercession of such saints as St Winefride, whose tomb used to lie in the abbey, and such local martyrs as the Elizabethans Blessed Robert Johnson and Blessed Richard Martin.

[Shrewsbury Abbey, the site of Ellis Peter's Cadfael murder mysteries, is an Anglican parish now.]

Shrewsbury Abbey was founded in 1083 and by the early 16th century was one of the most wealthy and important of more than 600 monasteries throughout the country, and was ruled by a “mitred abbot” who also sat Parliament.

It was dissolved in 1540 by King Henry VIII and the shrine of St Winefride, today a patron of the Diocese of Shrewsbury, was desecrated.

Following improvements in ecumenical relations since the Second Vatican Council, Benedictine monks were about a decade ago permitted to celebrate Mass at the abbey for the first time since its dissolution.

The Mass at Norton Abbey was scheduled to be celebrated in the outdoor ruins of the Augustinian priory, but the weather did not cooperate:

Catholics in Cheshire have attended Mass on the site of a Medieval abbey church for only the second time since the Reformation.

The Mass at Norton Priory, Runcorn, was celebrated to mark the Year of Faith opened last October by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

It brought together more than 600 faithful from the five Runcorn churches of the Holy Spirit, Our Lady, St Augustine, St Edward and St Martin de Porres and the Frodsham parish of St Luke that make up Local Pastoral Area 12 of the Diocese of Shrewsbury.

Initially, an outdoor Mass had been planned amid the ruins of the former Augustinian priory but the uncertain weather persuaded organisers to transfer the celebration to the 12th century undercroft. . . .

The Mass was concelebrated by Runcorn priests Fr Peter Wright, who preached, and Fr George Malecki and by Fr Peter O’Neill, the parish priest of St Luke’s. The Rev. Deryck Sankey, a Warrington-based deacon, also attended.

The Mass was also attended by the children of six primary schools, with their families, as well as pupils and teachers from St Chad’s Catholic and Church of England High School, Runcorn.

The congregation included a small group of Kenyans who were visiting Runcorn from St Mary’s Catholic School in Nyeri, which is twinned with St Chad’s. . . .

Norton Priory has now become an acclaimed tourist attraction with an award-winning museum, managed woodland and 18th century walled gardens open to visitors.

Much of the original layout of the buildings – the cloisters, church, refectory and dormitory – can be seen, though few of the original buildings remain standing.

One of the greatest surviving items is an huge statue of St Christopher carrying the child Jesus on his shoulders [pictured in the article] which was preserved by the Brooke family and is now on view at the museum.

The Mass was only the second Mass to be celebrated at the site of the priory since the 16th century.

The first was celebrated by the priest and parishioners of St Augustine’s, Runcorn, about 30 years ago.

These are fascinating historical events! It is good for English Catholics to demonstrate their heritage in their native land, and it is very hospitable for the Church of England pastor to make his church available for the celebration of the Mass--but the church was consecrated for the celebration of Holy Mass and the Sacraments of the Catholic Church, after all!

[Both photos are from wikipedia commons.]

Monday, June 24, 2013

June 24: The Puritan and The Jesuit

These two men shared the same birthday, the same first name, and the same generation, but little else--except for the general atmosphere of danger in Tudor England.

Robert Dudley, the 1st Earl of Leicester was born on June 24, 1533; Robert Persons or Parsons, SJ on June 24, 1546.

As a young man, Dudley experienced the dangers of the Tudor dynasty. His father was John Dudley, the Duke of Northumberland who encouraged Edward VI to change the succession from Mary OR Elizabeth Tudor to Jane Grey Dudley. His brother was Guildford Dudley who had married Jane Grey. Robert Dudley was imprisoned in the Tower of London after Mary I thwarted that attempt. Although he and another brother were released, his father, brother, and sister-in-law would all be executed for their role in the attempted coup d'etat. Dudley owed his safety to Philip II!

Robert Dudley became one of Elizabeth I's favorites. Between wives, it seemed at some point they might marry, except that the first wife died (Amy Robsart) in such suspicious circumstances. Dudley--or Leicester, as he should be called after his title--was a devout evangelical, a patron of Puritans, who encouraged Elizabeth to join in the war in the Spanish Netherlands between the Protestants and the Catholics there.

Elizabeth thought about arranging a marriage between Leicester and Mary, Queen of Scots as a means of controlling her Catholic cousin, but Mary chose Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley instead. When the Spanish Armada threatened, Leicester was commander of the land forces prepared to defend against the putative landing forces. He died not too long after the failure of the Armada, on September 4, 1588. The Encyclopedia Britannica summaries his character thusly:

Of his character it is more difficult to speak with confidence, but some features of it are indisputable. Being in person tall and remarkably handsome, he improved these advantages by a very ingratiating manner. A man of no small ability and still more ambition, he was nevertheless vain, and presumed at times upon his influence with the Queen to a degree that brought upon him a sharp rebuff. Yet Elizabeth stood by him. That she was ever really in love with him, as modern writers have supposed, is extremely questionable; but she saw in him some valuable qualities which marked him as the fitting recipient of high favours. He was a man of princely tastes, especially in architecture. At court he became latterly the leader of the Puritan party, and his letters were pervaded by expressions of religious feeling which it is hard to believe were insincere. Of the darker suspicions against him it is enough to say that much was certainly reported beyond the truth; but there remain some facts sufficiently disagreeable, and others, perhaps, sufficiently mysterious, to make a just estimate of the man a rather perplexing problem.

Robert Persons, SJ was born of yeoman stock and attended St. Mary's Hall at Oxford, becoming a Fellow and Tutor at Balliol in 1568. His attraction to Catholicism brought about his resignation in 1574; Persons traveled to the Continent and became a Jesuit on July 3, 1575. From 1579 to 1581 he served in England as a missionary priest with St. Edmund Campion. After the latter's arrest and execution, Persons returned to the Continent.

He had high hopes for the success of the Spanish Armada in 1588 and of succeeding William Allan as Cardinal--neither of those hopes came to fruition. But his interest in education certainly bore fruit. He founded seminaries in Valladolid, Seville, and Madrid, Spain; he started a school for Catholic boys at St. Omer in France now Stonyhurst in England; he became the rector of the Venerable English College in Rome. Persons died on April 15, 1610. The Catholic Encyclopedia summarizes his character thusly:

Father Persons was a man of great parts, eloquent, influential, zealous, spiritual, disinterested, fearless. Yet he had some of the defects of his qualities. He was masterful, sometimes a special pleader, and greater as a pioneer or sectional leader than as Generalissimo. Though his services in the mission field, and in the education of the clergy were priceless, his participation in politics and in clerical feuds cannot be justified except in certain aspects.

More on Father Persons here.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Tudor Biographer Reviewing Another Tudor Biographer's Book, Part II

Earlier this month, I posted on one Tudor era biographer reviewing another Tudor era biographer's work--in that case Linda Porter reviewing Anna Whitelock. This time, it's Anna Whitelock reviewing John Guy, who has written biographies of St. Thomas More and his daughter Margaret, Mary, Queen of Scots, and St. Thomas of Canterbury (St. Thomas a Becket). Anne Whitelock reviews John Guy's new study of Henry VIII's children for the BBC History Magazine:

Anna Whitelock considers a new look at Henry VIII's children, and how his marital troubles shaped their lives

Henry VIII was a king infamous above all else for his desire for a male heir. The story of Henry’s marital difficulties is well known – as are the children of this most dysfunctional family, who have been the focus of countless individual studies. However, they have not been considered together as often as might be expected. While Guy does not offer much that is significantly new in terms of the detail of the lives of Mary, Edward, Elizabeth and Henry Fitzroy – his first-born son and the illegitimate offspring of his affair with Elizabeth ‘Bessie’ Blount – it is a useful enterprise to bring the king’s children together in one accessible volume.

In doing so the book charts the impact of Henry’s marital difficulties on his offspring. Their formative years were played out in the shadow of high politics, and in vivid descriptions Guy documents how their lives, lifestyles, households, furnishings and education were directly affected by the vagaries of their father’s favour. As this account demonstrates, their childhood and adolescence amounted to an eventful, and traumatic, apprenticeship for rule. . . .

Rather than simply rehearsing the key events of each of the reigns, Guy’s focus is more on the sibling rivalries, conflicting faiths and competing ambitions that tore the family apart during the years that followed. It is a pacy and accessible narrative of the unfolding family drama, but one might have hoped for a little more detail about the personality and rule of each of the children. . . .

This may be a well-known story, but Guy presents it with typical narrative flair and attention to detail, producing a book with obvious appeal.

Read the rest here. This could become a regular series--stay tuned for A Tudor Biographer Reviewing Another Tudor Biographer's Book, Part III!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Lot of St. John Fisher and a Little More

Today is the second day of the U.S. Bishops' 2013 "Fortnight for Freedom" and the Feast of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, martyrs, sharing the same feast day. St. John Fisher was executed on June 22, 1535, St. Thomas More on July 6, 1535. Both men's holiness was remarkable at the time of their living and yet they were not canonized until four hundred years later in 1935, on May 19 by Pope Pius XI. Without a free and established Catholicism in England, the devotion to and the cause for all the English martyrs took a long time to develop.

Pope Pius XI began his homily at the canonization Mass with the some historical context:

From time to time new heresies make their appearance and, under the guise of truth, gain strength and popularity; but the seamless garment of Christ can never be rent in twain. Unbelievers and enemies of the Catholic faith, blinded by presumption, may indeed constantly renew their violent attacks against the Christian name, but in wresting from the bosom of the militant Church those whom they put to death, they become the instruments of their martyrdom and of their heavenly glory. No less beautiful than true are the words of St. Leo the Great: “The religion of Christ, founded on the mystery of the Cross, cannot be destroyed by any sort of cruelty; persecutions do not weaken, they strengthen the Church. The field of the Lord is ever ripening with new harvests, while the grains shaken loose by the tempest take root and are multiplied.”

Speaking of the two martyrs, Pope Pius said that St. John Fisher "was gifted by nature with a most gentle disposition, thoroughly versed in both sacred and profane lore, so distinguished himself among his contemporaries by his wisdom and his virtue that under the patronage of the King of England himself, he was elected Bishop of Rochester. In the fulfilment of this high office so ardent was he in his piety towards God, and in charity towards his neighbour, and so zealous in defending the integrity of Catholic doctrine, that his episcopal residence seemed rather a Church and a University for studies than a private dwelling."

Of St. Thomas More he said, "he was no less distinguished for his desire of Christian perfection and his zeal for the salvation of souls. Of this we have testimony in the ardour of his prayer, in the fervour with which he recited, whenever he could, even the Canonical Hours, in the practice of those penances by which he kept his body in subjection, and finally in the numerous and renowned accomplishments of both the spoken and the written word which he achieved for the defence of the Catholic faith and for the safeguarding of Christian morality."

The pope also took the opportunity to pray for the conversion of England:

We desire moreover that with your ardent prayers, invoking the patronage of the new Saints, you ask of the Lord that which is so dear to Our heart, namely that England, in the words of St. Paul, "meditating the happy consummation which crowned the life" of those two martyrs, may "follow them in their faith," and return to the Father’s house "in the unity of faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God."

More usually gets more attention, because of the A Man for All Seasons fame (which has its own pitfalls, as Brian Patrick and I discussed yesterday), but Fisher, with even deeper links to the Tudor family (preacher at the funerals of both Henry VIII's father and grandmother) and more consistent and open opposition to Henry's plans to take over the Church and push through his marital arrangement, is just as interesting. He was a humanist, a bishop, a serious defender of Church teaching, and an admired churchman in his lifetime. In his death he demonstrated the same dignity and holiness:

When he came out of the Tower, a summer morning's mist hung over the river, wreathing the buildings in a golden haze. Two of the Lieutenant's men carried him in a chair to the gate, and there they set him down, while waiting for the Sheriffs. The cardinal stood up and leaning his shoulder against a wall for support, opened the little New Testament he carried in his hand. "O Lord," he said, so that all could hear him, "this is the last time I shall ever open this book. Let some comforting place now chance to me whereby I, Thy poor servant, may glorify Thee in my last hour"----and looking down at the page, he read:

Now this is etemal life: that they may know Thee, the one true God, and Jesus Christ Whom Thou has sent I have glorified Thee on earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do (John, 17:3-4).

Whereupon he shut the book, saying: "Here is even learning enough for me to my life's end." His lips were moving in prayer, as they carried him to Tower Hill. And when they reached the scaffold, the rough men of his escort offered to help him up the ladder. But he smiled at them: "Nay, masters, now let me alone, ye shall see me go up to my death well enough myself; without help." And forthwith he began to climb, almost nimbly. As he reached the top the sun appeared from behind the clouds, and its light shone upon his face. He was heard to murmur some words from Psalm 33: Accedite ad eum, etilluminamim, et facies vestræ non confundentur. The masked headsman knelt----as the custom was----to ask his pardon. And again the cardinal's manliness dictated every word of his answer: "I forgive thee with all my heart, and I trust on Our Lord Thou shalt see me die even lustily." Then they stripped him of his gown and furred tippet, and he stood in his doublet and hose before the crowd which had gathered to see his death. A gasp of pity went up at the sight of his "long, lean, slender body, nothing in manner but skin and bones . . . the flesh clean wasted away; and a very image of death, and as one might say, death in a man's shape and using a man's voice." He was offered a final chance to save his life by acknowledging the royal supremacy, but the Saint turned to the crowd, and from the front of the scaffold, he spoke these words:

Christian people, I am come hither to die for the faith of Christ's Catholic Church, and I thank God hitherto my courage hath served me well thereto, so that yet hitherto I have not feared death; wherefore I desire you help me and assist me with your prayers, that at the very point and instant of my death's stroke, and in the very moment of my death, I then faint not in any point of the Catholic Faith for fear; and I pray God save the king and the realm, and hold His holy hand over it, and send the king a good counsel.

The power and resonance of his voice, the courage of his spirit triumphing over the obvious weakness of his body, amazed them all, and a murmur of admiration was still rustling the crowd when they saw him go down on his knees and begin to pray. They stood in awed silence while he said the Te Deum in praise of God, and the Psalm In Thee O Lord have I put my trust, the humble request for strength beyond his own. Then he signed to the executioner to bind his eyes. For a moment more he prayed, hands and heart raised to Heaven. Then he lay down and put his wasted neck upon the low block. The executioner, who had been standing back, took one quick step forward, raised his axe and with a single blow cut off his head. So copious a stream of blood poured from the neck that those present wondered how it could have come from so thin and wasted a frame. There was certainly Divine irony in the fact that 22 June, the date of the execution, was the Feast of St. Alban, the first Martyr for the Faith in Britain. If the king had realized this he would certainly have arranged for the execution of Cardinal Fisher to take place on another day.

Regarding that last sentence in Michael Davies' account of Fisher's death--Henry VIII had no good choice for a date since he was set on executing this good Cardinal Bishop: June 23 was the Vigil of and June 24 was the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist! Fisher had identified himself with St. John the Baptist explicitly [meaning that Henry VIII was Herod and Anne Boleyn was Herodias]. So that date would have been worse than the Feast of St. Alban--and I think Henry VIII was aware of the feasts and their dates. After all, he still considered himself a faithful Catholic! Just without the pope!

I'll write more about St. Thomas More on the anniversary of his execution on July 6.

St. John Fisher's Tower Works

St. Thomas More's devotional writings while in the Tower of London are well-known: A Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation; Treatise Upon the Passion; Treatise on the Blessed Body; Instructions and Prayers; De Tristitia Christi. What is not as well known is that St. John Fisher wrote devotional works while in the Tower of London:

Saint John’s sister, Elizabeth White, was a saintly Dominican nun. While imprisoned in the Tower, he wrote two devotional works for her. One, titled The Ways to Perfect Religion, concluded with seven sentences, each a short prayer intended to be used on successive days of the week. In our consideration of these prayers, we should bear in mind: first, Saint John’s deep reverence for the Holy Name of Jesus, to whom each prayer is addressed; and second, his great devotion to the Daily Office, the official prayer of the Church, which takes into account the liturgical character of each day of the week.

Sunday: O blessed Jesu, make me to love Thee entirely.
Monday: O blessed Jesu, I would fain, but without Thy help I cannot.
Tuesday: O blessed Jesu, let me deeply consider the greatness of Thy love towards me.
Wednesday: O blessed Jesu, give unto me grace heartily to thank Thee for Thy benefits.
Thursday: O blessed Jesu, give me good will to serve Thee and to suffer.
Friday: O sweet Jesu, give me a natural remembrance of Thy Passion.
Saturday: O sweet Jesu, possess my heart, hold and keep it only to Thee.

The other work was titled A Spiritual Consolation. Oxford University Press (not Cambridge?) published an edited volume of his works in 2002:

Bishop John Fisher was a scholar and theologian of European reputation, famous as a preacher and author of the first sermon-sequence to be printed in English. He was beheaded for his opposition to Henry VIII's divorce from Catherine of Aragon and pursued after his death by the enmity of the king, who suppressed his books and sought to blacken his name. John Fisher's English writings are distinctive for their structured elegance and clarity. This new edition contains sermons written during the last fifteen years of Fisher's life, including a previously unpublished eyewitness account of the Field of Cloth of Gold celebrations, and devotional works composed while he was a prisoner in the Tower of London.

It was edited by Cecilia A. Hatt and promises that it is/accomplishes three goals:

~The first annotated edition of the English works of John Fisher.
~Sets the theology of this distinguished churchman in its historical context.
~A unique look at the history of the Church during one of its most important stages of development

In the chapter on the Tower Works, Hatt puts them in perspective:

A spiritual consolation and The ways to perfect religion were written while John Fisher was imprisoned in the Tower of London. He composed them for the use of his half‐sister Elizabeth White, who was a nun in the Dominican house at Dartford. The introduction explains the literary and religious background, of the ars moriendi and the meditatio mortis, and the commentary points out resemblances with the work of Henry Suso.

Readers of Nancy Bilyeau's novels The Crown and The Chalice, might remember that the protagonist, Joanna Stafford, was a novice at Dartford Priory, the only house of Dominican nuns in England, suppressed in the Dissolution of the Monasteries!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Fortnight for Freedom: Saints John Fisher and Thomas More

I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show this morning at 6:45 Central, 7:45 Eastern to discuss the connections among the 2013 Fortnight for (Religious) Freedom, Saints John Fisher and Thomas More (on the vigil of their feast as martyrs), and the true definition of conscience. As you know, you can listen live on-line.

As Ryan Topping notes in his Rebuilding Catholic Culture, for as much good as Robert Bolt's play A Man for All Seasons has done to make St. Thomas More well known, the play has also done harm because of its modern view of conscience, which Blessed John Henry Newman identified in the nineteenth century as “a creation of man”. This view of conscience Newman calls “the right of self will.” It thinks of conscience as the individual’s “right of thinking, speaking, writing, and acting, according to their judgment or their humour, without any thought of God at all” so that everyone is “to be his own master in all things, and to profess what he pleases, asking no one's leave”. Newman also calls this view of conscience, in contrast to true conscience, as being "consistent with oneself"--and that's the form of conscience in Thomas More that Robert Bolt prizes. It's his individual claim, his independent freedom, that Robert Bolt wanted to depict--Thomas More as "hero of selfhood" (from the Preface; cited by Topping on page 129). (Newman quotes from his famous Letter to the Duke of Norfolk.)

Bishop John Fisher and Sir Thomas More did not argue for their freedom of conscience from that position. Their consciences were reflecting natural law and God's revelation, and both spoke on the worldwide tradition and current Catholic teaching to back up their decision not to swear either the Oath of Succession or the Oath of Supremacy (both of which denied the authority of the Pope on the matter of judging the sacramental validity of marriage). Transcripts of their trials indicate that both of them cited the authority of tradition and Christendom against Henry VIII:

St. Thomas More: "I see no reason why that thing should make any Change in my Conscience: for I doubt not, but of the learned and virtuous Men now alive, I do not speak only of this Realm, but of all Christendom, there are ten to one of my mind in this matter; but if I should take notice of those learned Doctors and virtuous Fathers that are already dead, many of whom are Saints in Heaven, I am sure there are far more, who all the while they lived thought in this case as I do now. And therefore, my Lord, I do not think my self bound to conform my Conscience to the Counsel of one Kingdom, against the general Consent of all Christendom."

St. John Fisher: "My lords, I am here condemned before you of high treason for denial of the King's supremacy over the Church of England, but by what order of justice I leave to God, Who is the searcher both of the king his Majesty's conscience and yours; nevertheless, being found guilty, as it is termed, I am and must be contented with all that God shall send, to whose will I wholly refer and submit myself. And now to tell you plainly my mind, touching this matter of the king's supremacy, I think indeed, and always have thought, and do now lastly affirm, that His Grace cannot justly claim any such supremacy over the Church of God as he now taketh upon him; neither hath (it) been seen or heard of that any temporal prince before his days hath presumed to that dignity; wherefore, if the king will now adventure himself in proceeding in this strange and unwonted case, so no doubt but he shall deeply incur the grievous displeasure of the Almighty, to the great damage of his own soul, and of many others, and to the utter ruin of this realm committed to his charge, wherefore, I pray God his Grace may remember himself in good time, and harken to good counsel for the preservation of himself and his realm and the quietness of all Christendom."

Last year, at the opening Mass for the Fortnight for Freedom in Baltimore, Maryland, Archbishop William Lori gave the homily. I'm sure that in some way tonight at the opening Mass at the Baltimore Basilica, he will recall these two great saints in some way. (I have to admit that when I watched that homily last year, one of my first thoughts was--"Not Tyburn Hill! They were beheaded on Tower Hill!")

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The View from the Organist's Bench: Roger Scruton on Anglicanism

I have heard of Roger Scruton as a philosopher who writes on beauty and is associated with tradition and conservative theories, in general, about society and economics. Last year his book Our Church: A Personal History of the Church of England was published by Atlantic Books:

For most people in England today, the church is simply the empty building at the end of the road, visited for the first time, if at all, when dead. It offers its sacraments to a population that lives without rites of passage, and which regards the National Health Service rather than the National Church as its true spiritual guardian.

In Our Church, Roger Scruton argues that the Anglican Church is the forlorn trustee of an architectural and artistic inheritance that remains one of the treasures of European civilization. He contends that it is a still point in the centre of English culture and that its defining texts, the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer are the sources from which much of our national identity derives. At once an elegy to a vanishing world and a clarion call to recognize Anglicanism's continuing relevance, Our Church is a graceful and persuasive book.

Alas, Diarmaid MacCulloch  does not quite agree with that last sentence in the publisher's blurb. Reviewing the book in The Guardian, he begins with a statement of common experience and outlook:

I begin this review with a declaration of interest. Roger Scruton and I are rather alike. When very young, we watched our present queen's coronation on small black-and-white televisions, our first experience of the medium. We are both church organists, both distrust confident religious dogma and clerical pretensions, both love the Church of England in a grumpy fashion, and we have both been known to cultivate a fogeyish image on occasion.

MacCulloch comments that it's because they share so much in common that he cannot accept Scruton's version of the history of the Church of England, even if it is a "personal history":

A fundamental problem is that he persistently refers to "the Anglican church" throughout his account of its history since 1533, with a further implication that even before that, Anglicanism had always been sitting in the cupboard under the stairs, waiting for the pope to go away. Augustine of Canterbury, sent by Pope Gregory in 597 to establish Roman authority in the old imperial provinces of Britannia, would have been puzzled to learn that his mission had created such a body.

A millennium after Augustine, during the 16th-century reformation, we still couldn't talk about "Anglicanism" – only about the Church of England. Anglicanism really didn't take shape until some determined reconstruction in 1660-62. Previously, it was a "reformed" Protestant church of the European reformation – "reformed", technically, because it wasn't Lutheran – and it looked much to the reformed church in Zurich, a city that doesn't get a mention in Scruton's account, though Geneva does, excessively. The Tudor C of E lacked qualities Scruton admires: tolerance and an embrace of the "middle way". Its bishops ordered images and stained glass to be smashed, a regrettable vandalism that Scruton attributes to some vaguely characterised fanatical thugs called "Puritans". Tudor and Stuart England executed more Roman Catholics than any other Protestant church in Europe, and burned Anabaptists too, besides later dispatching quite a few Scottish Covenanters. The English church was not a "middle way" between the pope and Protestantism, because, as its leaders would brutally have made clear to Scruton, you can't have a middle way between the Antichrist and truth.

And MacCulloch continues, even though he apologizes for "breaking a butterfly upon a wheel" and does commend some parts of the book: "When he genuinely knows about something, other rewards appear: some enjoyably sensitive pages on the feel of a country church, church architecture generally, and some mostly accurate discussion of church music."

Read the rest here. Spoiler alert: MacCulloch does NOT approve of the Anglican Ordinariate.

UPDATE: In the headline, I refer to Roger Scruton as a church organist (as MacCulloch does when citing their shared experiences and views). This Telegraph interview includes some comments on Scruton's view and position while at the organ at his village church, ("All Saints church in the Wiltshire hamlet of Garsdon"):

So what’s the point of religion? “My faith – such as it is – is simply the old Anglican one. We don’t really know, but we trust, and we build a community out of that trust and we recognise as a central feature of that community the ultimate Christian sacrifice.”

His position is summed up by his place at the organ – halfway between the pews and the pulpit. “I can shut myself off and choose whether or not to listen to what’s going on. I don’t have to sing the hymns; I play them instead. My form of religious experience is very much that of an intellectual seeing things from a legacy of doubt.” He sympathises with Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in whom he sees a similar “metaphysical doubt”.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Blessed John Henry Newman on Preaching and Words

I am sure you have heard the statement often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: "Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary." As this blog notes, it can be cited with a certain edge and even a semi-political tone:

It is always attributed to St. Francis of Assisi---founder of the Franciscan Order---and is intended to say that proclaiming the Gospel by example is more virtuous than actually proclaiming with voice. It is a quote that has often rankled me because it seems to create a useless dichotomy between speech and action. Besides, the spirit behind it can be a little arrogant, intimating that those who "practice the Gospel" are more faithful to the faith than those who preach it.

And, of course, St. Francis never said it. But in using the book compiled by Father Benedict Groeschel, Praying to Our Lord Jesus Christ, particularly during my weekly hour of adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, I re-read (re-prayed?) this prayer by Blessed John Henry Newman, in which the English saint goes even further in contrasting actions and words in preaching, in the circumstances of everyday life:

"Make me preach you without preaching-not by words, but by my example and by the catching force, the sympathetic influence, of what I do - by my visible resemblance to your saints, and the evident fullness of the love which my heart bears to you."

Without over-analyzing the prayer, I would comment that this is an emblem of Newman's motto as Cardinal, "Cor ad cor loquitor"--"Heart Speaks to Heart", a motto he borrowed from St. Francis de Sales. Recalling that Blessed John Henry Newman, particularly because of the Parochial and Plain Sermons collected from his years as an Anglican, is known as a great preacher, means that Newman meant that this is true: he should preach without preaching at all. Knowing that he also did preach by preaching means that formal preaching and teaching is required, but this personal, heart-to-heart example and influence is essential.

The entire prayer, "Jesus the Light of the Soul" from Meditations and Devotions:

Stay with me, and then I shall begin to shine as you shine: so to shine as to be a light to others. The light, O Jesus, will be all from you. None of it will be mine. No merit to me. It will be you who shines through me upon others. O let me thus praise you, in the way which you do love best, by shining on all those around me. Give light to them as well as to me; light them with me, through me. Teach me to show forth your praise, your truth, your will. Make me preach you without preaching-not by words, but by my example and by the catching force, the sympathetic influence, of what I do - by my visible resemblance to your saints, and the evident fullness of the love which my heart bears to you.

Father Groeschel's collection of prayers from the early Church to the twentieth century, from the martyrs to Blessed John Paul II, from the Fathers of the Church through the saints of the Middle Ages and each age of Church, is not really a book to be read through, since it's a book of prayers to inspire prayer and meditation. I am, however, reading the introductions to the sections as an excellent survey of the history of spirituality.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Ruins of Netley Abbey by George Keate

Nancy Bilyeau is posting a series on the monastic ruins of England at a site called A Bloody Good Read and uses the evocative line, "In Lone Magnificence, a Ruin Stands" for the posts. It's from a poem by George Keate:

Hence all the trivial Pleasures of the Crowd,
Folly's vain Revel, and that treach'rous Art
Which captivates the Gay, or sooths the Proud,
And steals each better Purpose from the Heart.

More welcome far the Shades of this wild Wood
Skirting with cheerful Green the seabeat Sands,
Where NETLEY, near the Margin of the Flood
In lone Magnificence a Ruin stands.

How chang'd alas! from that rever'd Abode
Which spread in ancient Days so wide a Fame,
When votive Monks these sacred Pavements trod,
And swell'd each Echo with JEHOVAH'S Name!

Now sunk, deserted, and with Weeds o'ergrown,
Yon aged Walls their better Years bewail;
Low on the Ground their loftiest Spires are thrown,
And ev'ry Stone points out a moral Tale.

Mark how the Ivy with Luxuriance bends
Its winding Foliage through the cloister'd Space,
O'er the green Window's mould'ring Height ascends,
And seems to clasp it with a fond Embrace.—

With musing Step I pace the silent Isle,
Each moss-grown Nook, each tangled Path explore,
While the Breeze whistles through the shatter'd Pile,
Or wave light-dashing murmurs on the Shore.

No other Noise in this calm Scene is heard,
No other Sounds these tranquil Vaults molest,
Save the Complainings of some mournful Bird
That ever loves in Solitude to rest.

Haunts such as these delight, and o'er the Soul
Awhile their grateful Melancholy cast,
Since through all Periods she can boundless roll,
Enjoy the Present, and recall the Past!—

Here, pious Hermits from the World retir'd
In Contemplation wing'd their Thoughts to Heav'n;
Here, with Religion's heart-felt Raptures fir'd,
Wept o'er their erring Days, and were forgiv'n.

Race after Race succeeding, in these Cells,
Learn'd how to value Life, learn'd how to die;
Lost are their Names, and no Memorial tells
In what lone Spot their mould'ring Ashes lie!

Mute is the matin Bell which us'd to call
The wakeful Fathers from their humble Beds;
No midnight Taper glimmers on the Wall,
Or o'er the Floor its trembling Radiance sheds!

No sainted Shrine now pours its Blaze of Light
Bidding the zealous Bigot hither roam;
No holy Relick glads the Pilgrim's Sight,
Or lures his Foot-steps from a distant Home!—

Now fainter to the View each Object grows,
In the clear West the Day's last Gleams are seen,
On Night's dim Front the Star of Ev'ning glows,
And dusky Twilight aids the solemn Scene.

Again quick Fancy peoples all the Gloom,
Calls from the Dust the venerable Dead,
Who ages since lay shrouded in the Tomb,
And bids them these accustom'd Limits tread.

Swift as her Wish the shadowy Forms appear,
O'er each chang'd Path with doubtful Step they walk,
From their keen Eyes she sees Amazement stare,
And hears, or thinks she hears, the Spectres talk.

E'en now they pass, and fading like a Dream
Back to their hallow'd Graves again they go;
But first bequeath one pitying Sigh, and seem
To mourn with me the Fate of all below!—

Disparted Roofs that threaten from above,
The tott'ring Battlement, the rifted Tow'r,
With many a scatter'd Fragment loudly prove,
All conqu'ring TIME, the Triumphs of thy Pow'r.

These speaking Stones one sacred Truth maintain,
That Dust to Dust is Man's predestin'd Lot;
He plans, and labours, — Yet how much in vain!—
Himself, his Monuments, how soon forgot!—

Forgot on Earth, — but one there sits on high
Who bids our Virtues to his Throne ascend,
Pleas'd he beholds them with Parent's Eye,
To give our Hope new Wings, and crown our End!—

And you, YE FAIR, of gayer Scenes the Grace,
If Chance should lead you from the jocund Train,
Curious to visit this sequester'd Place,
Amidst its Ruins wander not in vain.

Whence do they still our silent Wonder claim
E'en in this low, this desolated State?
'Tis from Remembrance of their former Fame:—
They once were beautiful, they once were great!

'Tis Goodness best adorns the female Heart;
Asks a Respect which must with Years increase,
Lives, when the Roses from the Cheek depart,
And all the Joys of Adulation cease!

Forgive the Muse, if with an anxious Love
She wooes you to attend her friendly Lay;
Warns you, lest faithless to yourselves ye prove,
And in false Pleasures trifle Life away.

Know, in your Breasts is lodg'd a Spark divine
For ever prompting to each great Desire;—
Th' inconstant World must change, that still shall shine,
Nor Death's cold Hand e'er quench th' immortal Fire.

Ne'er may Dishonour's Blast an Entrance find,
O keep it sacred with a Vestal's Care,
Feed it with all the Graces of the Mind,
Nor fail to pour the social Duties there.

So o'er your Forms when TIME his Veil shall cast,
And ev'ry Charm by Age shall be decay'd,
Your fair Renown shall triumph to the last,
And Virtue guard the Conquests Beauty made.

According to Wikipedia, "Netley Abbey is a ruined late medieval monastery in the village of Netley near Southampton in Hampshire, England. The abbey was founded in 1239 as a house for Roman Catholic monks of the austere Cistercian order. Despite being a royal abbey, Netley was never rich, produced no influential scholars nor churchmen, and its nearly 300-year history was quiet. The monks were best known to their neighbours for the generous hospitality they offered to travelers on land and sea." (photo also from Wikipedia) Netley Abbey is on the English Heritage list.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Kansas Authors Club Convention in Wichita, Kansas

The Kansas Authors Club website is updated with details about the speakers and events for the annual Convention, held this year in Wichita from October 4 to 6 at the Holiday Inn, Wichita East, and hosted by District 5 (to which I belong). I bring this to your attention because I am a speaker at this event. Here's my bio and description of my presentation:

Stephanie A. Mann, author of Supremacy and Survival: How Catholics Endured the English Reformation, earned Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in English Language and Literature from Wichita State University. She has taught English and History classes at W.S.U. and Newman University, as well as ministry and spirituality-based courses at various religious venues. Working on a second book about the stories of the English Catholic Martyrs, Stephanie has also written articles for online and print publications, and blogs at

Stephanie will describe strategies she has developed and techniques she employs to promote her non-fiction, historical work to a niche audience of readers interested in the history of religion in England. With humility and humor, Stephanie outlines her successes and failures, offering insights and lessons learned by using the acronym F.E.A.T.: F = Finding a Publisher and an Audience (research and success); E = Establishing a Platform (broadcast, print, and on-line social media); A = Addressing Challenges and Opportunities (current events and limitations); T = Tracking down Contacts and Customers (networking and working).

“Marketing a Non-Fiction Book to a Niche Audience: It’s Quite a F.E.A.T.”

The Convention Planners have included a wide range of topics on the schedule: fiction, memoir, historical fiction, filmmaking, poetry, etc. Here's the flyer and registration information in case you're local and you're interested.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Tractarian Church in Brighton

The Telegraph featured this column about St. Bartholomew's Anglican Church in Brighton, built in the nineteenth century under the guidance of Reverend Arthur Wagner, a Tractarian High Churchman:

The architect was the local Edmund Scott – not one of the Gilbert Scott clan. He worked with some ideas of the extraordinary man who paid for the church, the Rev Arthur Wagner (1824-1902).

Wagner’s father was a clergyman who had built St Paul’s, Brighton, where his son spent all his ordained life. In furtherance of his High Church ideals, Arthur Wagner built four or five churches in poor areas of Brighton, spending £70,000 (millions in today’s money). “To the shame of the 20th century”, as the new Pevsner puts it, three have been demolished.

Fr Wagner’s style of Tractarian churchmanship became known as London, Brighton and South Coast Religion (in joky reference to the railway company). Wagner favoured not only vestments but also incense. Four confessionals were installed, with little wooden onion domes.

Wagner was not, like others, taken to court under the Public Worship Regulation Act 1874, but he risked prosecution, arguing for his position in books with titles such as Reasons for Disobeying on Principle.

St Bartholomew’s is, if anything, rather frightening in its monumental blankness. It would have been even more overpowering if plans had gone through to extend it eastward with a Lady Chapel at an upper level, beyond three round arches piercing the high east wall.

That plan came to nothing when its sponsor, Fr Arthur Cocks, went over to Rome in 1910. All that relieves the blank of the east wall, from the original plans, is a vast and strange crucifix, painted and incised on encaustic tiles. More easily regarded as beautiful is a baldacchino, 45ft tall, over the altar, added in 1899, of green and pink marble and white alabaster. A green marble pulpit on red marble columns looks down over one side of the nave. In 1911, at the lower level of the east wall, were added some hideous figurative mosaics.

Referencing the parish's website, St. Bartholomew's is still a haven for Anglo-Catholic liturgy in the Church of England, but is most famous for using classical Viennese settings of "the Mass". Today, for example, they performed Mozart's Mass (Missa Brevis) in F (K192)--the Benedictus:

You can see more pictures of St. Bartholomew in Brighton in the Wikipedia article and on the parish website here. And take a look at the vestments!

Book Review: Rebuilding Catholic Culture

One of my summer reading picks for the Son Rise Morning Show Friday.

I received this book as a premium for making a contribution to PRI (Population Research Institute).

Book description from Sophia Institute Press:

Rarely does a book come along that so succinctly explains the decline of modern culture, articulates a defense of the Church's teachings, and offers a hope-filled path for building a civilization grounded in Catholic truth.
In these pages, Dr. Ryan Topping does all three, pulling back the curtain on the false philosophies of the secularists and showing that in the West today the most formidable threat to freedom is not failing economies or Islam, but secularism. Our best defense, he claims, is a vibrant Catholic culture, and our best hope for creating it lies in the principles found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
This book takes you on a masterful journey through the relevant portions of the Catechism, distilling sophisticated theological concepts into words that are simple, clear, and direct, while unpacking its core teachings on faith and morals that nurture true civilizations.
In Rebuilding Catholic Culture, you'll also discover sensible ways to begin restoring Catholic culture — right now — in your own life and family, and in our larger communities as well: in the theater, the classroom, in our hospitals, and even in the public square.
This profoundly accessible book will renew your confidence in the world-transforming character of our Creed and in the potency of our Faith to shape and redefine the culture of the West.

Table of Contents:
Foreword by Aidan Nichols, OP
1. On Faith: How Catholics Believe
2. On the Creed: Why Christology Matters
3. On Worship: How Liturgy Transforms
4. On Sacraments: When the World Is Enchanted
5. On Virtue: How Character Forms Conscience
6. On Law: What Love Commands
7. On the Family: How Love Grows
8. On Prayer: What Christ Pleads
Image Credits
About the Author

The organization of the book is very neat, you see: two chapters each for the four parts of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: Dogma; Liturgy; Morality; Prayer: Faith and the Creed; Worship and the Sacraments; Virtue and the Law; Family and Prayer. Throughout the book, Topping considers the state of Catholic culture today, examining the impact of the Second Vatican Council, secularization, etc, and often juxtaposing the decline of Catholic culture with the teachings of the Church in the Catechism. So modern church architecture ignores the role of beauty and order in liturgy; modern thought about conscience, as expressed by Robert Bolt in A Man for All Seasons, contrasts to the true meaning of conscience; current ideas about marriage contrast with the true definition of marriage, the family, and children, etc. I particularly enjoyed Topping's section on Dante's Purgatorio, with the introduction that its only in that part of the Divine Comedy that there is any conflict and drama: the souls in Hell have no hope; the souls in Heaven have all they need and want: the souls in Purgatory are working to expiate the punishments for their sins on earth--they have hope, they will progress, they will achieve sanctification, and they will join the saints in Heaven. The motto for Purgatory, in contrast to Hell, could be "Embrace hope, all ye who enter here."

Another aspect of this book I appreciated is that Topping gives us insight into the decline of Catholic culture in Canada and the triumph of secularism there. Topping offers sketches of a history similar to Russell Shaw's comprehensive American Church, tracing a story of accommodation and acculturation.

I agree with the publisher's blurb that this book "will renew your confidence in the world-transforming character of our Creed and in the potency of our Faith to shape and redefine the culture of the West", but it still makes me sad that we have had to undergo such decline and fall.

Highly recommended.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

When the Pope Met the Archbishop of Canterbury

William Oddie of The Catholic Herald had some questions about the value of the visit and said so in a column which received quite a few comments. His crucial question was, would the Pope and the Archbishop  "talk about the fact that since the ordination of women to the Anglican version of the priesthood, the possibility of reunion between the two churches has been made an impossibility for all time?".

Now he restates the issue:

I’m sorry to go over the same ground again, but it’s important that we should get this one right, and I confused the issue last time. The danger is not that the visit is happening at all: it is that because of the way in which it is taking place, and because of the very dodgy way the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity is handling it, the impression is being given that in some way the Pope and the archbishop are equivalent figures, and that Welby’s beliefs about his Church and his office are understood AND RECOGNISED by the Holy See.

It’s essential to remember what those claims actually are. Catholics believe that Henry VIII invented a new church called the Church of England. But that’s not what Anglicanism claims at all. Anglicanism claims that it is continuous with what came before, that it is THE SAME CHURCH as the Ecclesia Anglicana of the Middle Ages and that Archbishop Welby is the direct successor of St Augustine of Canterbury: the Wikipedia article on him begins with the words “Justin Portal Welby … is the 105th and current Archbishop of Canterbury”. The liturgical book of the church which Catholics believe was newly invented but which Anglicans believe is England’s historic Catholic Church, reformed not invented by the Tudors, described itself as The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments and other Rites and Ceremonies of THE CHURCH according to the use of the Church of England (My emphasis).

The consequence of all that is the Anglican claim, explicit or implicit, is that the Catholic Church in England is not what it says it is, because it’s the Church of England which IS in England what the Catholic Church claims to be. In less ecumenical times, the English Catholic Church was sometimes derided as “the Italian mission”.

Those claims are soft-pedalled now, but they are still there. Their modern equivalent is that Anglican bishops, and archbishops, are in some way equivalent and equal to the Catholic bishops: that in these ecumenical times they are somehow in business together.

He then goes on to identify the difficulties he sees with the ongoing Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) discussions:

Those on the Catholic side are there to represent a coherent doctrinal tradition the objective content of which is accepted by all of them. They would all, for instance, without even thinking about it, see the Catechism of the Catholic Church as being an authoritative expression of that tradition. On the Anglican side, opinions differ widely: some would also accept most of the CCC: others would reject much of it, and particularly what it has to say about the sacraments and the nature of the Church. The Catholic Commissioners represent the Catholic Church: the Anglicans represent only their own personal opinion. There is no consensus between them; how could any consensus emerge between them and the Catholic Church? That is why the ARCIC documents are couched in such vague and ambiguous language: and it is why the CDF has accepted none of them as adequately representing the Catholic view of whatever they were claiming to be about: some they have rejected as clearly heretical.

But what actual harm does ARCIC do, you may ask? Doesn’t it serve the admirable objective of fostering charity between divided Christians? Well, the harm it does is the harm indifferentism and reductionist ecumenism always does. We can see what has happened since the Sixties: the faithful in the pews are uncertain what to believe any more. Everyone always used to say, whatever you think of the Catholics, at least they know what they believe. Not any more they don’t. The pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI began to reverse the disaster of indifferentism: but they never disbanded ARCIC, though JPII did suspend it after the ordination to the Anglican episcopate of an openly and militantly homosexual man. As I wrote last time, “It was a moment in which reality asserted itself. What is unclear is WHY that assertion of reality was itself suspended. Why did ARCIC then recommence operations as though nothing had happened, despite the fact that throughout the Anglican communion, openly gay bishops are now seen as quite normal and there are thousands of women priests, several of whom are even commissioners in the new ARCIC?”

That last sentence does give me pause: how awkward for the ARCIC teams if they would ever discuss the Eucharist, the Real Presence, the priesthood--with such completely different views of the sacraments! And if they will never discuss those issues, how could the ARCIC ever say they really explored the crucial issues that divide Catholics and Anglicans.

The Catholic Herald also provides the text of Pope Francis' remarks at the end of the visit, and the second paragraph in the excerpt below is rather troubling as it seems like an apology, when certainly no apology is needed:

The history of relations between the Church of England and the Catholic Church is long and complex, and not without pain. Recent decades, however, have been marked by a journey of rapprochement and fraternity, and for this we give heartfelt thanks to God. This journey has been brought about both via theological dialogue, through the work of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, and via the growth of cordial relations at every level through shared daily lives in a spirit of profound mutual respect and sincere cooperation. In this regard, I am very pleased to welcome alongside you Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster. These firm bonds of friendship have enabled us to remain on course even when difficulties have arisen in our theological dialogue that were greater than we could have foreseen at the start of our journey.

I am grateful, too, for the sincere efforts the Church of England has made to understand the reasons that led my Predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, to provide a canonical structure able to respond to the wishes of those groups of Anglicans who have asked to be received collectively into the Catholic Church: I am sure this will enable the spiritual, liturgical and pastoral traditions that form the Anglican patrimony to be better known and appreciated in the Catholic world.

Today’s meeting is an opportunity to remind ourselves that the search for unity among Christians is prompted not by practical considerations, but by the will of the Lord Jesus Christ himself, who made us his brothers and sisters, children of the One Father. Hence the prayer that we make today is of fundamental importance.

At the risk of sounding more Catholic than the Pope, I must say I'm disappointed in the rather diffident tone of that paragraph. What about the blessing to the Catholic Church of those who have come home to Rome, in what Blessed John Henry Newman called "the one true fold of the Redeemer" as a real example of true ecumenism? As the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham sums up its brief history:

This new structure within the Catholic Church is a generous and pioneering attempt to heal the wounds of sin and division between Anglicans and Catholics. The Holy Father [Pope Benedict XVI], speaking at St Mary’s College, Oscott, at the end of his 2010 State Visit to the United Kingdom, said the Ordinariate “should be seen as a prophetic gesture that can contribute positively to the developing relations between Anglicans and Catholics. It helps us to set our sights on the ultimate goal of all ecumenical activity: the restoration of full ecclesial communion in the context of which the mutual exchange of gifts from our respective spiritual patrimonies serves as an enrichment to us all”.