Saturday, May 31, 2014

St. Joan of Arc and the English Reformation

Just a quick note about St. Joan of Arc and the English Reformation--listening to the EWTN radio broadcast of Mass yesterday I heard the celebrant mention that if she had not led France in defeating the English during the Hundred Years War, at least of part of France (more than Calais!) might have been under English control. And that would have had consequences.

St. Joan was burned alive at the stake on May 30 in 1431. In 1531, one hundred years later, Henry VIII started his break away from the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church by forcing the Convocation of Bishops to acknowledge his authority over the Church in England "as far as God allows", and proclaiming himself the Supreme Head and Governor of the Ecclesiae Anglicanae in the Act of Supremacy three years later. Thus if she had not helped rally France to defeat the English, "France" would have participated in the English Reformation, her great monasteries suppressed (250 years before the French Revolution's suppression), statues and paintings of Notre Dame crushed and burned along with other great Christian art, and many glorious Gothic cathedrals despoiled and destroyed, their shrines and relics, treasures and art plundered--Chartres without the Sancta Camisa, Sainte Chapelle without the relic of the Crown of Thorns--again anticipating much of the iconoclasm that did occur after the French Revolution. But without St. Joan of Arc, hearing the voices of the saints, going to her country's weak king, and leading France to victory, France would have been Anglican (Protestant) in the 16th century, and western culture, Catholic culture, would have lost the same things in France as were lost in England: art, music, visual beauty, books, monasticism, and worship.

This website suggests other aspects of an alternative history without St. Joan of Arc:

What events might not have happened without Joan of Arc saving France? Without Joan of Arc it is very doubtful that France would have become the strong unified nation that it became. Without a strong France many of the later events that occurred in Europe and around the world would have been much different. It is even conceivable that American independence from Britain would never have happened because it was the French military assistance that made the difference and directly caused the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown.

Do you think France would've existed to this day without Joan of Arc's actions? Joan helped to give the people of France a national identity. Before Joan people would identify themselves as being from parts of France such as people from the region of Burgundy calling themselves Burgundians. After Joan of Arc the people were much more likely to identify themselves as being French. It was having a national identity that helped forge the great nation that France became and still is today.

In one of those strange ironies, the Church of England honors Joan of Arc on their liturgical calendar--as a visionary (not necessarily because her visions were true, but because she listened to them)! The Catholic Church honors St. Joan of Arc as a martyr and virgin, unjustly condemned to death; a holy Maiden who loved Jesus and Notre Dame.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Newman Oratories and the Liturgical Life in England

I have experienced Mass at the London (Brompton) and the Oxford Oratories--I must get to Mass at the Birmingham Oratory: it's on my bucket list! This article, which I found while searching for something else, has some great details about "The Contribution of the Oratories to the Liturgical Life of England" and I commend it to your reading.

Among the interesting notes: Newman did not agree with A.W.N. Pugin that the Gothic was THE only style of architecture appropriate for Catholic churches. Indeed, Newman thought that the Classical style was more appropriate because of its "simplicity, purity, elegance, beauty, [and] brightness". Father Nicholls states that, "He believed that the most suitable model for a Catholic Church in England after the emancipation was not to be found in the Gothic revival, but in the great Churches of the Roman Baroque, where the Altar was close to the congregation, and easily visible; where the tabernacle was prominent and the Blessed Sacrament was the focus of attention throughout the building."

Father Nicholls also addresses the contributions two Oratorians made to liturgical music by Edward Caswall and Frederick Faber; classical music at the Birmingham Oratory (Newman favored the Viennese masters like Mozart, Haydn, Cherubini, Hummel, and Beethoven over plainchant and polyphony!); the subsequent development of plainchant and polyphony after Pope St. Pius X issued his Motu Proprio on liturgical music in 1903; the use of Latin in Oratory Masses; the traditions of celebrating High Mass and Sunday Vespers, and the practice of the celebrant facing the Altar during Mass.

Very enlightening. Read the rest here.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Happy Birthday to Gilbert Keith Chesterton!

As our Wichita chapter of the American Chesterton Society continues to read Chesterton, we've appreciated how he looks at historical events from a different perspective. This short article from Lunacy and Letters, posted on the American Chesterton Society's website, shows why Chesterton offers those different views--he does not want to read what the historian thinks about history; he just wants to read history:

In my innocent and ardent youth I had a fixed fancy. I held that children in a school ought to be taught history, and ought to be taught nothing else. The story of human society is the only fundamental framework outside of religion in which everything can fall into its place. A boy cannot see the importance of Latin simply by learning Latin. But he might see it by learning the history of the Latins. Nobody can possibly see any sense in learning geography or in learning arithmetic – both studies are obviously nonsense. But on the eager eve of Austerlitz, where Napoleon was fighting a superior force in a foreign country, one might see the need for Napoleon knowing a little geography and a little arithmetic. I have thought that if people would only learn history, they would learn to learn everything else. Algebra might seem ugly, yet the very name of it is connected with something so romantic as the Crusades, for the word is from the Saracens. Greek might be ugly until one knew the Greeks, but surely not afterwards. History is simply humanity. And history will humanise all studies, even anthropology.

Since that age of innocence I have, however, realised that there is a difficulty in this teaching of history. And the difficulty is that there is no history to teach. This is not a scrap of cynicism – it is a genuine and necessary product of the many points of view and the strong mental separations of our society, for in our age every man has a cosmos of his own, and is therefore horribly alone. There is no history; there are only historians. To tell the tale plainly is now much more difficult than to tell it treacherously. It is unnatural to leave the facts alone; it is instinctive to pervert them. The very words involved in the chronicles – “Pagan”, “Puritan”, “Catholic”, “Republican”, “Imperialist” – are words which make us leap out of our armchairs.

No good modern historians are impartial. All modern historians are divided into two classes – those who tell half the truth, like Macaulay and Froude, and those who tell none of the truth, like Hallam and the Impartials. The angry historians see one side of the question. The calm historians see nothing at all, not even the question itself.

But there is another possible attitude towards the records of the past, and I have never been able to understand why it has not been more often adopted. To put it in its curtest form, my proposal is this: That we should not read historians, but history. Let us read the actual text of the times. Let us, for a year, or a month, or a fortnight, refuse to read anything about Oliver Cromwell except what was written while he was alive. There is plenty of material; from my own memory (which is all I have to rely on in the place where I write) I could mention offhand many long and famous efforts of English literature that cover the period. Clarendon’s History, Evelyn’s Diary, the Life of Colonel Hutchinson. Above all let us read all Cromwell’s own letters and speeches, as Carlyle published them. But before we read them let us carefully paste pieces of stamp-paper over every sentence written by Carlyle. Let us blot out in every memoir every critical note and every modern paragraph. For a time let us cease altogether to read the living men on their dead topics. Let us read only the dead men on their living topics.

Read the rest here. Happy birthday, G.K.C.! (May 29, 1874).

Tolkien's Beowulf

J.R.R. Tolkien's son Christopher has edited his father's translation and notes about the great poem Beowulf. Craig Williamson reviews it for The Wall Street Journal:
Over a thousand years before Bilbo Baggins crept into Smaug's lair to lift a cup from the dragon's hoard, a nameless slave came slinking into the dragon's cave in "Beowulf" to steal a cup that led to the worm's fiery retaliation. Long before Frodo Baggins battled the forces of evil in Gollum, Shelob and Sauron, Beowulf did battle with the monster Grendel, his mother and the dragon. Before there was Tolkien's Middle-earth, there was the Old English middangeard (literally, "middle-yard, middle-world"), a place where history and fantasy met, where heroes did battle with both their real enemies and the creatures of their collective imagination.
Tolkien was a scholar of Old English before he was the father of modern fantasy fiction, and he drew upon "Beowulf" and other Old English poems in the shaping of his imaginary worlds. Like Beowulf, for example, Frodo is both threatened by the exterior forces of monsters and men and vulnerable to the internal pull of pride and power. Gollum, like Grendel, is associated with kin-killing, an evil that undermines human fellowship in each story. And Aragorn's lament for past ages as he rides past the burial mounds near Rohan echoes the elegiac themes in the song of the last survivor in "Beowulf."

Now at last we have Tolkien's version of the poem, as well as several other important texts related to it. First and foremost is his prose translation, which he completed in 1926 at the age of 34 and revised over the years and which his son Christopher, who edited this volume, characterizes as "in one sense complete, but at the same time evidently 'unfinished.' " There is also a generous selection of lecture notes and commentary on the Old English text, geared to Tolkien's translation. This is followed by three versions, one in Old English, two in modern English, of a short story, "Sellic Spell" (a phrase from "Beowulf" that means "marvelous story"), and two versions of a short ballad by Tolkien called "The Lay of Beowulf."

Williamson discusses briefly the "ethics" of publishing these works that Tolkien had not prepared himself for publication:

The ethics of publishing an author's unfinished works are admittedly complex, but Christopher Tolkien has argued that his father's drafts, works in progress and commentaries are important to our understanding of his work. Both scholars and lay readers have long awaited Tolkien's "Beowulf" translation and its related materials, and everyone will find something of enduring interest in this collection. For Tolkien, "Beowulf" was both a brilliant and haunting work in its own right and an inspiration for his own fiction. It is a poem that will move us as readers, not forever but as long as we last. Or as Tolkien says, "It must ever call with a profound appeal—until the dragon comes."

The HarperCollins site announcing the publication has further comments by Christopher Tolkien:

The translation of Beowulf by J.R.R. Tolkien was an early work, very distinctive in its mode, completed in 1926: he returned to it later to make hasty corrections, but seems never to have considered its publication. This edition is twofold, for there exists an illuminating commentary on the text of the poem by the translator himself, in the written form of a series of lectures given at Oxford in the 1930s; and from these lectures a substantial selection has been made, to form also a commentary on the translation in this book.

From his creative attention to detail in these lectures there arises a sense of the immediacy and clarity of his vision. It is as if he entered into the imagined past: standing beside Beowulf and his men shaking out their mail-shirts as they beached their ship on the coast of Denmark, listening to the rising anger of Beowulf at the taunting of Unferth, or looking up in amazement at Grendel’s terrible hand set under the roof of Heorot.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Blessed Margaret Pole in "The Tablet"

In 1941, The Tablet published this article about Blessed Margaret Pole, executed on May 28, 1541, four hundred years before:

The sixteenth century seems to hive been the era in excelsis of the English Matriarch, and we see her no less in the fiery Bess of Hardwick and the sweet Anne Dacres and a host of supernumeraries than in the widely divergent characters of Mary and Elizabeth. Certainly we have her at her best in the dogged and noble character of the Blessed Countess of Salisbury, who was "prepared to swear by her damnation when it was necessary to enforce a serious point." She has frequently been compared with the Mother of the Machabees, and the parallel is a close one. She saw the physical or mental suffering of many of her children and crowned her endurance with a bloody martyrdom.

This week brings us to the fourth centenary of the execution of this courageous woman. As one of the Henrician martyrs she stands in the same category as the Blessed Carthusians and S. John Fisher and S. Thomas More. By 1541 it seemed that nothing could stem the ruthless drive against those who stood loyal to the Apostolic See ; and she who in his better days had been praised by Henry for her exalted virtues was now abandoned by him in the depth of his depravity to a death so ignominious that the contemporary ambassadorial despatches are eloquent with righteous indignation. . . .

The greatest offence of Blessed Margaret was that she was the mother of the Cardinal, and for that reason she met her death. In November 1538, ten days after the apprehension of two of her sons, Lord Montague of Buckmere and Sir Geoffrey Pole, and others of her kindred who Were executed, the Venerable Countess was herself arrested. Bishop Goodrich of Ely and Admiral Fitzwilliam, later Earl of Southampton and a cousin of Anne Boleyn, were sent to examine her at her own house at Warblington in Hampshire, which was searched from cellar to attic. She had there a considerable establishment, with three chaplains in residence. A few undated Papal Bulls were found on the premises. Her neighbours and tenants were closely questioned, and it was alleged that she had forbidden the latter to read the Bible in English. However, the inquisitors reported to Cromwell that although they had "travailed with her" for many hours she would "nothing utter," and they were forced to conclude that either her sons had left her out of their "treacherous" counsels or else that she was "the most arrant traitress that ever lived." For some time she was a prisoner at Cowdray Park, Sussex, where she suffered many indignities and was constantly invigilated by the Admiral. Finally, she was sent to the Tower which she never again left, and despite her seventy summers managed to endure two years of deprivation in which lack of clothing and nourishment were her chief trials. It was quite suddenly that she was led out to execution, on May 28th, 1541. A splendid Torrigiano tomb had been prepared to receive her mortal remains at Christ Church, but they were not suffered to be placed there and the tomb itself was ruthlessly defaced by Cromwell's own orders.

Beccadelli, later Archbishop of Ragusa and the Boswell of the Cardinal wrote as follows : "I was with Cardinal Pole when he heard of his Mother's death. To me he said 'Hitherto I thought God had given me the grace to be the son of the best and most honourable lady in England, and I gloried in the fact and thanked God for it. Now however he has honoured me still more, and increased my debt of gratitude to Him, for He has made me the son of a Martyr. For her constancy in the Catholic Faith the King has caused her to be publicly beheaded, in spite of her seventy years. Blessed and thanked be God for ever!'

As we often look upon the martyrs as inspiration for how to live and how to die for Jesus and His Church, these lessons, from an article by Celine McCoy on the Catholic Exchange, seem most apt for remembering and modeling Blessed Margaret Pole:

1. Every one of us hopes to die peacefully in our beds, and what else should a 70-year-old widow have expected? She had been a faithful wife, mother, and governess to a princess, loyal to her king in all things except for his unlawful marriage to Anne Boleyn. Perhaps she could have saved her life by keeping quiet or by denying her son’s position against the king. But Margaret remained faithful to her true King; while she suffered on earth, we know that she has been rewarded according to His promise: “Everyone who has left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children, or land for the sake of my name will be repaid a hundred times over, and also inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29).

2. Today our lives may not be on the line for our beliefs, but are there opportunities to speak the truth that we are avoiding because we don’t want to lose friends, the respect of our co-workers, or because we fear possible derision? Let us pray to Blessed Margaret to help us calmly and fearlessly stand up for the truth, no matter the cost to ourselves.

Blessed Margaret Pole, pray for us!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Dominic Selwood on the English Reformation

Writing on his Telegraph blog about how history can be manipulated by the ruling party, Dominic Selwood writes:

So what about England? Has our constitutional monarchy and ancient tradition of parliamentary democracy protected our history from political manipulation? Can we rely on what we are taught and told, or are there myths we, too, have swallowed hook, line, and sinker?

Where better to start than with that most quintessentially English of events ­— the break with Rome that signalled the birth of modern England?

For centuries, the English have been taught that the late medieval Church was superstitious, corrupt, exploitative, and alien. Above all, we were told that King Henry VIII and the people of England despised its popish flummery and primitive rites. England was fed up to the back teeth with the ignorant mumbo-jumbo magicians of the foreign Church, and up and down the country Tudor people preferred plain-speaking, rational men like Wycliffe, Luther, and Calvin. Henry VIII achieved what all sane English and Welsh people had long desired ­– an excuse to break away from an anachronistic subjugation to the ridiculous medieval strictures of the Church.

For many in England, the subject of whether or not this was true was not even up for debate. Even now, the historical English disdain for all things Catholic is often regarded as irrefutable and objective fact. Otherwise why would we have been taught it for four and a half centuries? And anyway, the English are quite clearly not an emotional race like some of our continental cousins. We like our churches bright and clean and practical and full of common sense. For this reason, we are brought up to believe that Catholicism is just fundamentally, well … un-English.

But the last 30 years have seen a revolution in Reformation research. Leading scholars have started looking behind the pronouncements of the religious revolution’s leaders – Henry VIII, Thomas Cromwell, Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley – and beyond the parliamentary pronouncements and the great sermons. Instead, they have begun focusing on the records left by ordinary English people. This “bottom up” approach to history has undoubtedly been the most exciting development in historical research in the last 50 years. It has taken us away from what the rulers want us to know, and steered us closer towards what actually happened.

Golly, you'd almost think he'd read my book!

I thought this was a particularly well-reasoned analysis of the violence of Henry VIII's imposition of his break from Rome:

The Tudor violence meted out to enforce the break with Rome was extreme, designed to deter by shock. For instance, one of Henry’s earliest victims was Sister Elizabeth Barton, a Benedictine nun. When she criticised Henry’s desire to marry Anne Boleyn, he had her executed, and her head spiked on London Bridge ­— the first and only woman ever to have suffered this posthumous barbarity.

Henry and his inner circle of politicians and radical clerics put to death hundreds of dissenters, pour encourager les autres. None of these people were plotting to kill him or destabilise his rule. Their “treason” was to oppose the destruction of their religion or the despoiling of their property. The brutal strangulation, emasculation, disembowelling, beheading, and quartering they endured as traitors was hideous, as was the total absence of any form of due process or justice.

Henry's use of attainder, meaning that the accused was never tried nor really even knew the charges against them, was brought up in an article by Suzannah Lipscomb in History Today, discussing whether or not Henry VIII was a tyrant:

Yet one of these laws, passed in 1539, ordered that royal proclamations would henceforth have the same status in law as statute. In other words, Henry used Parliament to eradicate the need for it and to make his word – quite literally – law. Similarly he condemned to death, through Parliament, an unprecedented number of people who were available for trial by the use of acts of attainder – acts of Parliament by which the accused was declared guilty and his property and life forfeited without trial or the need to cite precise evidence or name specific crimes. This is how Henry’s fifth wife, Katherine Howard, and first minister, Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex, were dispatched.

Blessed Margaret Pole, Blessed Adrian Fortescue, and Blessed Thomas Dingley were also all executed under a Bill of Attainder. They were not plotting to bring down Henry VIII's rule--but all three were wealthy Catholics. Henry was able to seize the treasure of the Knights of Jerusalem and the lands of Countess of Salisbury by bringing them to the block, making up conspiracies out of travels to the Continent and devotion to the Five Wounds of Christ.

But I think Selwood is wrong to ignore the fact that those burned at the stake during the reign of Mary I were not plotting to kill her or "destabilize" her rule either. Cranmer, of course, had been found guilty of treason against the rightful heir, and could have been beheaded. Certainly, the Catholic martyrs of the Elizabethan era who have been beatified and canonized were not plotting against Elizabeth.

Otherwise, Selwood provides an interesting and spirited summary of the revisionist history more or less accepted now about the English Reformation.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Tolkien and Lewis at Eighth Day Books

My husband and I enjoyed celebrating one of Eighth Day Books' two anniversaries Saturday night (the May anniversary is of its moving to its present location at 2838 East Douglas; the September anniversary is of its opening; last year was its 25th anniversary!). I baked a carrot cake and Warren's wife Chris had prepared a nice selection of snacks--a group of our friends met and we sat and talked about books, and education, and faith, and family for about three hours.

But now, to my purchases that evening: The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary from OUP and Medieval Literary: A Compendium of Medieval Knowledge with the Guidance of C.S. Lewis from Fons Vitae! When Warren showed me the latter I immediately thought of C.S. Lewis' The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature, which I own in the old Cambridge University Press paperback, and which is filled with notes taken on mimeographed pages, recycled from the WSU History Department! I also bought two beautiful cards from the Laughing Elephant press, with illustrations by Marie Angel and quotations by Fyodor Dostoevsky and Jakob Bohme, like this one:

Only at Eighth Day Books, I think, could one find such a combination of erudition and beauty, friendship and delight, wine and cheese, snacks and cake, memories and future hopes--we are planning a reunion of our Ignatius J. Reilly reading group there in a few months--so many of the joys of life. Speaking of memories, one of my most cherished memories of Eighth Day Books was the night we all gathered for my book reading and signing! Here's a picture of my late father and my sister. Thinking of him this Memorial Day, I recall how proud he was of me that night, how much he enjoyed the festivity, and of course, how much I and all my family miss him!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Samuel Webbe and English Catholics in the Eighteenth Century

I mentioned Samuel Webbe in my post last Sunday about the Mass at Our Lady and St. Gregory, Warwick Street to honor the Portuguese ambassador. He died on May 29 in 1816--25 years after the Catholic Relief Act of 1791 and 13 years before Catholic Emancipation. The Friends of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham highlights him on their Music tab:

English composer, born in England in 1742; died in London, 29 May, 1816. He studied under Barbaudt. In 1766 he was given a prize medal by the Catch Club for his O that I had wings, and in all he obtained twenty-seven medals for as many canons, catches, and glees, including Discord, dire sister, Glory be to the Father, Swiftly from the mountain’s brow, and To thee all angels. Other glees like When winds breathe soft, Thy voice, O Harmony, and Would you know my Celia’s charms are even better known. In 1776 he succeeded George Paxton as organist of the chapel of the Sardinian embassy, a position which he held until 1795: he was also organist of the Portuguese chapel. His Collection of Motetts (1792) and A Collection of Masses for Small Choirs were extensively used in Catholic churches throughout Great Britain from 1795 to the middle of the last century. If not of a very high order, they are at least devotional, and some are still sung. He also published nine books of glees, between the years 1764 and 1798, and some songs. His glees are his best claim on posterity.

Lest you are confused, Webbe did not write for the TV show Glee; he wrote English a cappella part songs, scored for three to four voices, although Glee clubs did sing them:

Discord!Dire sister of the slaughtering power,
Small at her birth, but rising every hour,
While scarce the skies her horrid head can bound,
She stalks on earth, and shakes the world around.
But lovely Peace in angel form
Descending quells the rising storm.
Soft ease and sweet content shall reign
And Discord never rise again.

The same site that highlighted Webbe notes that "The penal laws and the persecution of Catholics during the 220 years from 1558 to 1778 prevented any development of music by and for Catholics." 

This intrigues me. William Byrd's great output of liturgical music for all the propers of the Roman Missal dates from the 17th century, and I know that composers like Peter Phillips fled to the Continent to both practice their faith and compose music. Since Catholics were only able to attend Mass secretly in hidden chapels in recusant safe houses, Low Mass, silent and somber, was the rule. According to this presentation by an Oratorian priest, there was little congregational singing, and even when rarely celebrated, Benediction was accompanied by recitation of the great Eucharistic hymns of St. Thomas Aquinas. In the Embassy chapels, the liturgical music, if it represented more modern compositions than Gregorian chant and Renaissance polyphony, was by German, Italian, Portuguese, or Spanish composers, so English Catholics attending those Masses heard international music, not by their own.

Ashgate publishes Roman Catholic Church Music in England, 1791–1914: A Handmaid of the Liturgy? by T.E. Muir that addresses developments after the 1791 Catholic Relief Act until World War I:

Roman Catholic church music in England served the needs of a vigorous, vibrant and multi-faceted community that grew from about 70,000 to 1.7 million people during the long nineteenth century. Contemporary literature of all kinds abounds, along with numerous collections of sheet music, some running to hundreds, occasionally even thousands, of separate pieces, many of which have since been forgotten. Apart from compositions in the latest Classical Viennese styles and their successors, much of the music performed constituted a revival or imitation of older musical genres, especially plainchant and Renaissance Polyphony. Furthermore, many pieces that had originally been intended to be performed by professional musicians for the benefit of privileged royal, aristocratic or high ecclesiastical elites were repackaged for rendition by amateurs before largely working or lower middle class congregations, many of them Irish.

However, outside Catholic circles, little attention has been paid to this subject. Consequently, the achievements and widespread popularity of many composers (such as Joseph Egbert Turner, Henry George Nixon or John Richardson) within the English Catholic community have passed largely unnoticed. Worse still, much of the evidence is rapidly disappearing, partly because it no longer seems relevant to the needs of the modern Catholic Church in England.

This book provides a framework of the main aspects of Catholic church music in this period, showing how and why it developed in the way it did. Dr Muir sets the music in its historical, liturgical and legal context, pointing to the ways in which the music itself can be used as evidence to throw light on the changing character of English Catholicism. As a result the book will appeal not only to scholars and students working in the field, but also to church musicians, liturgists, historians, ecclesiastics and other interested Catholic and non-Catholic parties.

The article I cited from Newman's foundation, the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in England, points out that there were exceptions to the rule of secret and silent Masses, looking again at the Embassies in London and the outlet they offered to some Catholic composers, like Samuel Webbe, George Paxton--and Thomas Arne, arranger of "God Save the King/Queen" and composer of "Rule, Britannia". There is definitely more to this story.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Limited Religious Tolerance in 1689

The Act of Toleration, after being passed in Parliament, was approved on May 24, 1689 by William and Mary (1 Will & Mary c 18). The long title of the Act reveals its limited scope: An Act for Exempting their Majesties Protestant Subjects dissenting from the Church of England from the Penalties of Certain Laws (modern spelling). It was limited to allowing some freedom of worship to some dissenters. Catholics and Unitarians were excluded from the Act of Toleration.

The Protestants who dissented from the Church of England (Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, etc.) were not "granted" freedom of religion and the Church of England remained the established church--its members had all the privileges of citizenship. England would certainly be protected from the dangers of Catholicism, as this paragraph emphasizes:
Be it enacted by the King's and Queen's most excellent majesties, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and the Commons, in this present Parliament assembled and by the authority of the same, That neither the statute made in the three and twentieth year of the reign of the late Queen Elizabeth, intituled, An act to retain the Queen's majesty's subjects in their due obedience; nor the statute made in the twenty ninth year of the said Queen, intituled, An act for the more speedy and due execution of certain branches of the statute made in the three and twentieth year of the Queen's majesty's reign viz. the aforesaid act; nor that branch or clause of a statute made in the first year of the reign of the said Queen, intituled, An act for the uniformity of common prayer and service in the church, and administration of the sacraments; whereby all persons, having no lawful or reasonable excuse to be absent, are required to resort to their parish church or chapel, or some usual place where the common prayer shall be used, upon pain or punishment by the censures of the church, and also upon pain that every person so offending shall forfeit for every such offence twelve pence; nor the statute made in the third year of the reign of the late King James the First, intituled, An act for the better discovering and repressing popish recusants; nor that other statute made in the same year, intituled, An act to prevent and avoid dangers which may grow by popish recusants; nor any other law or statute of this realm made against papists or popish recusants, except the statute made in the five and twentieth year of King Charles the Second, intituled, An act for preventing dangers which may happen from popish recusants; and except also the statute made in the thirtieth year of the said King Charles the Second, intituled, An act for the more effectual preserving the King's person and government, by disabling papists from sitting in either house of parliament; shall be construed to extend to any person or persons dissenting from the Church of England, that shall take the oaths mentioned in a statute made this present Parliament, intituled, An act for removing and preventing all questions and disputes concerning the assembling and sitting of this present Parliament; and shall make and subscribe the declaration mentioned in a statute made in the thirtieth year of the reign of King Charles the Second, intituled, An act to prevent papists from sitting in either house of Parliament; which oaths and declaration the justices of peace at the general sessions of the peace, to be held for the county or place where such person shall live, are hereby required to tender and administer to such persons as shall offer themselves to take, make, and subscribe the same, and thereof to keep a register: and likewise none of the persons aforesaid shall give or pay, as any fee or reward, to any officer or officers belonging to the court aforesaid, above the sum of six pence, nor that more than once, for his of their entry of his taking the said oaths, and making and subscribing the said declaration; nor above the further sum of six pence for any certificate of the same, to be made out and signed by the officer or officers of the said court.
Well, a Catholic take the oath required, but then he wouldn't really be a Catholic anymore, would he, because he'd have to deny the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and the authority of the Pope!

It's interesting to note that this Act of Toleration, and the "Ecclesiastical Enactments" of the Tudor English Reformation(s) were all repealed by the Statute Law (Repeals) Act of 1969. In fact, much of the legislation of the English Reformation was repealed by that Act: Henry VIII's, Edward VI's, and Elizabeth I's. For example, here are Henry's Acts undone:


Friday, May 23, 2014

Newman, Eliot, and Brownson Comment on Girolamo Savonarola, OP

Girolamo Savonarola was executed in the main square of Florence on May 23, 1498--it was a brutal execution that came after the Dominican friar had been tortured. He and his companions were stripped of their habits (degradated) and hung by the neck above fires lit to burn their bodies. Their ashes were scattered in the Arno.

Savonarola was a hero to St. Philip Neri, as he had studied at the convent of San Marco (St. Mark's). Blessed John Henry Newman wrote about his patron's admiration of the Florentine friar in the two sermons he preached at the Oratory in Birmingham in 1848.

First, describing Savonarola:

A true son of St. Dominic, in energy, in severity of life, in contempt of merely secular learning, a forerunner of the Dominican St. Pius [V] in boldness, in resoluteness, in zeal for the honour of the House of God, and for the restoration of holy discipline, Savonarola felt "his spirit stirred up within him," like another Paul, when he came to that beautiful home of genius and philosophy; for he found Florence, like another Athens, "wholly given to idolatry." He groaned within him, and was troubled, and refused consolation, when he beheld a Christian court and people priding itself on its material greatness, its intellectual gifts, and its social refinement, while it abandoned itself to luxury, to feast and song and revel, to fine shows and splendid apparel, to an impure poetry, to a depraved and sensual character of art, to heathen speculations, and to forbidden, superstitious practices. His vehement spirit could not be restrained, and got the better of him, and—unlike the Apostle, whose prudence, gentleness, love of his kind, and human accomplishments are nowhere more happily shown than in his speech to the Athenians —he burst forth into a whirlwind of indignation and invective against all that he found in Florence, and condemned the whole established system, and all who took part of it, high and low, prince or prelate, ecclesiastic or layman, with a pitiless rigour,—which for the moment certainly did a great deal more than St. Paul was able to do at the Areopagus; for St. Paul made only one or two converts there, and departed, whereas Savonarola had great immediate success, frightened and abashed the offenders, rallied round him the better disposed, and elicited and developed whatever there was of piety, whether in the multitude or in the upper class.

It was the truth of his cause, the earnestness of his convictions, the singleness of his aims, the impartiality of his censures, the intrepidity of his menaces, which constituted the secret of his success. Yet a less worthy motive lent its aid; men crowded round a pulpit, from which others were attacked as well as themselves. The humbler offender was pleased to be told that crime was a leveller of ranks, and to find that he thus was a gainer in the common demoralization. The laity bore to be denounced, when the clergy were not spared; and the rich and noble suffered a declamation which did not stop short of the sacred Chair of St. Peter. . . .

A very wonderful man, you will allow, my Brethren, was this Savonarola. I shall say nothing more of him, except what was the issue of his reforms. For years, as I have said, he had his own way; at length, his innocence, sincerity, and zeal were the ruin of his humility. He presumed; he exalted himself against a power which none can assail without misfortune. He put himself in opposition to the Holy See, and, as some say, disobeyed its injunctions. Reform is not wrought out by disobedience; this was not the way to be the Apostle either of Florence or of Rome. Then trouble came upon him, a great reaction ensued; his enemies got the upper hand; he went into extravagances himself; the people deserted him; he was put to death, strangled, hung on a gibbet, and then burned in the very square where he had set fire to the costly furniture of vanity and sin. 

And then of St. Philip Neri's connection to Savonarola:

Philip was born in Florence within twenty years after [Savonarola]. The memory of the heroic friar was then still fresh in the minds of men, who would be talking familiarly of him to the younger generation,—of the scenes which their own eyes had witnessed, and of the deeds of penance which they had done at his bidding. Especially vivid would the recollections of him be in the convent of St. Mark; for there was his cell, there the garden where he walked up and down in meditation, and refused to notice the great prince of the day; there would be his crucifix, his habit, his discipline, his books, and whatever had once been his. Now, it so happened, St. Philip was a child of this very convent; here he received his first religious instruction, and in after times  he used to say, "Whatever there was of good in me, when I was young, I owed it to the Fathers of St. Mark's, in Florence." For Savonarola he retained a singular affection all through his life; he kept his picture in his room, and about the year 1560, when the question came before Popes Paul IV. and Pius IV., of the condemnation of Savonarola's teaching, he interceded fervently and successfully in his behalf before the Blessed Sacrament, exposed on the occasion in the Dominican church at Rome.

George Eliot--about as far in religious sympathy from Neri and Newman as you can be--placed Girolamo Savonarola's leadership and the great Bonfire of the Vanities at the center of her historical novel Romola. The title character is a follower of the great prophet and through the course of the novel (written for the Cornhill Magazine in fourteen parts) she witnesses his rise and fall. Please note that Eliot includes the story of Sandro Botticelli throwing some of his paintings based on classical mythology on the Bonfire. I read Romola--it is one of the least read of Eliot's works--several years ago and enjoyed the historical background more than the story of the heroine and her duplicitous husband!

Finally, one more Savonarola fan: the American Catholic convert Orestes Brownson (also rather lacking in sympathy with Blessed John Henry Newman!). Brownson addresses how Savonarola is often used to attack the Catholic hierarchy and the papacy, because he opposed Pope Alexander VI:

The name of Savonarola has become popular with the partisans of republican opinions and the adversaries of the Catholic hierarchy; and so often as that name is pronounced at the present day, it seems to recall exclusively the recollection of an ignominious death inflicted on one of the most energetic defenders of civil liberty and liberty of conscience. That which has, more than any thing else, contributed to this error, is the perseverance with which the eyes of posterity have been required to contemplate two facts, which are claimed to exhibit the sum and spirit of Savonarola's public life, namely, his having refused absolution to Lorenzo de' Medici at the point of death, unless he should first restore to his country its liberty, and the boldness with which he is said to have shaken off the authority of the Holy See. Without inquiring to what extent this twofold assertion is confirmed or disproved by the most authentic contemporary authorities, let us put ourselves at once at the point of view with which we are immediately concerned, and let us become spectators of that struggle at once so close, so dramatic, and so imposing which was maintained, in the presence of all Italy, by a simple monk against the spirit of his age. The object for which he strives is the restoration of the kingdom of Christ in the hearts, the intellect, and the imagination of the people, and to extend the advantages of the Redemption to all the faculties of man, and to all the works which they produce. The enemy which he combats is that Paganism, the mark of whose influence he finds impressed upon every thing,upon art as well as upon morals, upon opinions as well as upon conduct, upon the cloisters as well as upon the secular schools.
Read the rest here.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Blessed John Forest, Unique Among the Catholic Martyrs

Blessed John Forest is unique among the Catholic martyrs of the English Reformation. He is what I would call a Supremacy Martyr, suffering for his refusal to recognize Henry VIII's supremacy over the Church of England, but he was found guilty, not of treason but of heresy--and thus burned alive in chains by the order of Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

As one of the Observant Franciscans and as one of Queen Katherine of Aragon's chaplains and confessors, Blessed John Forest (beatified by Pope Leo XIII), was always opposed to what Henry VIII planned to do to resolve his "Great Matter", manipulating the Catholic Faith in England and attempting to do so in Rome to achieve his goal of marrying Anne Boleyn. The Thomas Abel mentioned below was another one of Katherine of Aragon's chaplains, executed along with two others (and three Zwinglians) two years later. Father Peto's sermon at Greenwich compared Henry VIII to Ahab and Anne Boleyn to Jezebel and occasioned threats from Thomas Cromwell that Peto and his defender Friar Elstow mocked as ineffective to those who did not fear death. Blessed John Forest endured imprisonment and a torturous death to defend the sanctity of marriage and unity of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

From the Catholic Encyclopedia, details about the blessed martyr's life and death:

Born in 1471, presumably at Oxford, where his surname was then not unknown; suffered 22 May, 1538. At the age of twenty he received the habit of St. Francis at Greenwich, in the church of the Friars Minor of the Regular Observance, called for brevity's sake "Observants". Nine years later we find him at Oxford, studying theology. He is commonly styled "Doctor" though, beyond the steps which he took to qualify as bachelor of divinity, no positive proof of his further progress has been found. Afterwards he became one of Queen Catherine's chaplains, and was appointed her confessor. In 1525 he appears to have been provincial, which seems certain from the fact that he threatened with excommunication the brethren who opposed Cardinal Wolsey's legatine powers. Already in 1531 the Observants had incurred the king's displeasure by their determined opposition to the divorce; and no wonder that Father Forest was soon singled out as an object of wrath. In November, 1532, we find the holy man discoursing at Paul's Cross on the decay of the realm and pulling down of churches. At the beginning of February, 1533 an attempt at reconciliation was made between him and Henry: but a couple of months later he left the neighbourhood of London, where he was no longer safe. He was probably already in Newgate prison 1534, when Father Peto [gave] his famous sermon before the king at Greenwich. In his confinement Father Forest corresponded with the queen and Blessed Thomas Abel and wrote a book or treatise against Henry, which began with the text: "Neither doth any man take the honour to himself, but he that is called by God as Aaron was.

On 8 April, 1538, the holy friar was taken to Lambeth, where, before Cranmer, he was required to make an act of abjuration. This, however, he firmly refused to do; and it was then decided that the sentence of death should be carried out. On 22 May following he was taken to Smithfield to be burned. The statue of "Darvell Gatheren" which had been brought from the church of Llanderfel in Wales, was thrown on the pile of firewood; and thus, according to popular belief, was fulfilled an old prophecy, that this holy image would set a forest on fire. The holy man's martyrdom lasted two hours, at the end of which the executioners threw him, together with the gibbet on which he hung, into the fire. Father Forest, together with fifty-three other English martyrs, was declared Blessed by Pope Leo XIII, on 9 December, 1886, and his feast is kept by the Friars Minor on 22 May.

The Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma blog posted this information about the friar's correspondence with Katherine of Aragon:

“Most Serene Lady and Queen, my daughter most dear in the bowels of Christ, - When I read your letter I was filled with incredible joy, because I saw how great is your constancy in the Faith.

In this, if you persevere, without doubt you will attain salvation.

Doubt not of me that by any inconstancy I should disgrace my grey hairs.

Meanwhile I earnestly beg your steadfast prayers to God, for whose spouse we suffer torments, to receive me into His glory.

For it have I striven these four and forty years in the Order of St Francis.

Meanwhile do you keep free from the pestilent doctrine of the heretics, so that even if an angel should come down from Heaven and bring you another doctrine from that which I have taught you, give no credit to his words, but reject him; for that other doctrine does not come from God.

These few words you must take in lieu of consolation; but that you will receive from our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom I specially commend you, to my father Francis, to St Catherine; and when you hear of my execution, I heartily beg of you to pray for me to her.

I send you my rosary as I have but three days to live.”

Blessed John Forest, pray for us!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Last Abbot of Westminster Goes to the Tower

In 1560, John Feckenham, the last Abbot of Westminster, was sent to the Tower of London on May 20th by Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury. Since the reign of Elizabeth I had begun, he had been “railing against the changes that have been made.” Feckenham had been in the Tower before because of his defense of Catholicism. Cranmer sent him there during Edward VI’s reign, although he was freed briefly to debate John Jewel and John Hooper. During the reign of Henry VIII, he had been at Evesham, a Benedictine house suppressed in 1540; he served as chaplain to bishops Bell and Bonner of Worcester and London, respectively until his imprisonment. 

When Mary I succeeded her brother in 1553, he was released from the Tower. During her reign, Feckenham preached in London, served as Dean of St. Paul’s, assisted with the establishment of St. John’s and Trinity colleges in Oxford, and was the Queen’s confessor. He counseled Lady Jane Grey before her execution, hoping to convert her and he interceded for Elizabeth after the Wyatt Rebellion, preventing her execution and gaining her freedom. Feckenham engaged Cranmer, Ridley and Latimer in debate, but would not participate in their trial and execution. 

He received a D.D. at Oxford in 1556 and was appointed Abbot at Westminster, one of the few monasteries re-established during Mary’s reign, restoring the shrine of St. Edward the Confessor. 

When Elizabeth I came to the throne, she offered Feckenham security in his office if he took the Oath of Supremacy and conformed to the new Church of England (the Book of Common Prayer and Thirty-Nine Articles). Since he would not he was expelled from the abbey and for 14 years either held in the Tower or under house arrest as the “guest” of a Church of England bishop who would try to convert him without success. Feckenham prepared John Story (see the upcoming post on June 1) for his execution in 1571 in the Tower and was released on bail in July, 1574.

He was known to be gentle, courteous, and charitable, but proved himself, in the eyes of his bishop-jailers to be an absolutely obstinate papist (Catholic). In 1577, Feckenham was returned to the custody of the Bishop of Ely and was imprisoned in Wisbech Castle in 1580. He finally died there after 24 years of imprisonment on October 16, 1585. 

Feckenham’s life certainly demonstrates his loyalty to the Catholic Church, his endurance and his efforts to minister to the people of England. As the last mitered Abbot to sit in the House of Lords, he argued against the religious settlement Parliament crafted at the beginning of Elizabeth I’s reign, and yet he was always known for his kindly temperament. Although he and Lady Jane Grey could not agree on religious matters, she was thankful for his support even at her execution and Elizabeth probably thought she was being as generous and tolerant as possible when offering him a sinecure at the cost of his conscience.

David Knowles writes about him in his Saints and Scholars, "His mind moved in terms of practical concessions and adjustments; he had neither [Reginald] Pole's forward-looking zeal for reform, not the unworldly, single-minded missionary devotion of a Campion . . . Seen in the whole picture of his life, however, and as a man of his generation, he appears an admirable and sympathetic figure if not wholly an heroic one." More about the Last Abbot of Westminster here.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Our Lady of Laus: Mercy and Reparation

Just a reminder that I'm on the Son Rise Morning Show this morning (a little after 7:45 a.m. Eastern) to discuss Our Lady of Laus, based on the article I wrote for OSV's The Catholic Answer Magazine:

In May 2008, Bishop Jean-Michel di Falco Leandri, the bishop of Gap in the French Alps, celebrated a special Mass to announce the Vatican’s approval of Marian apparitions in that diocese that occurred between 1664 and 1718.
Although the location of the apparitions to Venerable Benôite (Benedicta) Rencurel and the shrine founded there have been drawing pilgrims since the late 17th century, Our Lady of Laus is relatively unknown outside of France. The website for the shrine is available only in French and Italian, for example, and the nearest airport is in Grenoble, about 60 mountain miles away.

Read the rest here. Listen live here!

A Short Passage to Eternity: Blessed Peter Wright, SJ

Blessed Peter Wright was a Jesuit martyr in England. Born in Slipton, Northamptonshire, England in 1603, Peter reverted to Catholicism after deserting from the English army on the Continent and was trained for the priesthood in Ghent and Rome. Entering the Jesuits in 1629, he taught at St Omers and then he ministered to English Catholics soldiers fighting for the King of Spain in Flanders/the Spanish Netherlands and accompanied Sir Henry Gage back to England. He also served as a chaplain to the Royalist army during the English Civil War at Oxford first with Sir Henry Gage and then with John Paulet, the 5th Marquess of Winchester. After the war, he was arrested at the home of the Paulet on Candlemas, February 2, 1651--thus sharing an arrest date with St. Anne Line--and imprisoned in Newgate. During his trial, the late Henry Gage's brother Thomas presented evidence that Wright was a priest and thus had violated the Elizabeth statutes against Catholic priests in England, so he was sentenced to death by hanging, drawing, and quartering. (Note that Thomas had been ordained a priest in the order of preachers, the Dominicans--and that Thomas had aided officials in the condemnation of three other priests: the Jesuit Thomas Holland in 1642, the Franciscan Francis Bell in 1643, and the Jesuit Ralph Corby in 1644--he was a busy informant.)

Blessed Peter Wright, beatified in 1929 by Pope Pius XI, spoke these words at Tyburn Tree on May 19 in 1651:

Gentlemen, this is a short passage to eternity; my time is now short, and I have not much to speak. I was brought hither charged with no other crime but being a priest. I willingly confess I am a priest; I confess I am a Catholic; I confess I am a religious man of the Society of Jesus, or as you call it, a Jesuit. 

This is the cause for which I die; for this alone was I condemned, and for propagating the Catholic faith, which is spread through the whole world, taught through all ages from Christ's time, and will be taught for all ages to come.

For this cause I most willingly sacrifice my life, and would die a thousand times for the same if it were necessary; and I look upon it my greatest happiness, that my most good God has chosen me most unworthy to this blessed lot, the lot of the saints. This is a grace which so unworthy a sinner could scarce have wished, much less hoped for. And now I beg of the goodness of my God with all the fervour I am able, and most humbly entreat Him that He would drive from you that are Protestants the darkness of error, and enlighten your minds with the rays of truth. And as for you Catholics, my fellow soldiers and comrades, as many of you as are here I earnestly beseech you to join in prayer for me and with me till my last moment; and when I shall come to Heaven I will do as much for you. God bless you all; I forgive all men. From my heart I bid you all farewell till we meet in a happy eternity.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Embassy Chapels in London and the Mass

Here's some more interesting news from the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham: a special Mass at Our Lady of the Assumption and St. Gregory, the Ordinariate parish in that part of London to honor the Portuguese Ambassador to the Court of St. James:

The Portuguese ambassador to the United Kingdom is to attend Mass at the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham's central church in Warwick Street, Soho, next month as part of efforts to restore historic links between that church and the Portuguese Embassy. His Excellency João de Vallera, along with other representatives from the Portuguese community in London, will be at the 10.30 a.m. Solemn Mass on Sunday 15 June, Trinity Sunday, which falls at the end of a week of celebrations to mark Portugal's National Day on 10 June.

The Warwick Street church, Our Lady of the Assumption and St. Gregory - which Cardinal Vincent Nichols dedicated to the life of the Ordinariate in 2013 - was built on the site of a Catholic chapel which had served the Portuguese embassy in London in the early eighteenth century, when the embassy was located in Golden Square, Soho. That original chapel, built during the Marques de Pombal's term as ambassador from 1724 to 1747 (and subsequently leased to the Bavarian Embassy), was badly damaged during the anti-Catholic Gordon Riots of 1780. It was rebuilt in 1789-90.

Beginning in the reign of King James I, from my reading, the embassy chapels of Catholic nations in London became sites of worship and the sacraments for Catholic English men and women. The ambassadors of the Court of Spain opened the chapel of St. James, Spanish Place (which for awhile hosted several Ordinariate events) to Catholics and the ambassadors often pleaded for the life (and exile) of Catholic priests arrested and condemned to death or, failing that, would make sure the martyred priest was supported during his execution with prayers. See for example the execution of Blessed Thomas Maxfield. Obviously, the Portuguese Embassy chapel served the same purpose for Catholics in London.

According to the announcement of this event:

The Mass will combine a flavour of the Anglican patrimony which the Ordinariate brings to the Catholic Church, with a Portuguese feel. Music by the Portuguese composer, Manuel Cardoso, will feature, alongside pieces by English composers including Herbert Howells and John Stainer. The Mass will be celebrated according to the Ordinariate Use, which integrates centuries' old Anglican prayers into the Roman Rite.

It's almost too bad they could not have included some of the music of Samuel Webbe, the English Catholic composer who served as organist in both the Sardinian and Portuguese embassy chapels in the 18th century.

Refreshments will be served! Portuguese wine and finger-foods (aka petiscos e doces?)!

Who Is Our Lady of Laus? Tune in Tomorrow to Find Out More

I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show tomorrow after the 7:45 a.m. Eastern/6:45 a.m. Central transition--the last segment of the EWTN broadcast that morning--to talk about Our Lady of Laus (pronounced Low). I had never heard about Our Lady of Laus before Dr. Matthew Bunson asked me to write an article for OSV's The Catholic Answer Magazine! More about Our Lady of Laus and the special distinctions of these approved Marian apparitions in the south of France at the foot of the Alps in the vale of Laus.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Books, Books, Books! Three in Queue

I have three great books lined up for Summer reading. I've started the first one, Romantic Catholics: France's Postrevolutionary Generation in Search of a Modern Faith by Carol E. Harrison from Cornell University Press:

In this well-written and imaginatively structured book, Carol E. Harrison brings to life a cohort of nineteenth-century French men and women who argued that a reformed Catholicism could reconcile the divisions in French culture and society that were the legacy of revolution and empire. They include, most prominently, Charles de Montalembert, Pauline Craven, Amélie and Frédéric Ozanam, Léopoldine Hugo, Maurice de Guérin, and Victorine Monniot. The men and women whose stories appear in Romantic Catholics were bound together by filial love, friendship, and in some cases marriage. Harrison draws on their diaries, letters, and published works to construct a portrait of a generation linked by a determination to live their faith in a modern world.

Rejecting both the atomizing force of revolutionary liberalism and the increasing intransigence of the church hierarchy, the romantic Catholics advocated a middle way, in which a revitalized Catholic faith and liberty formed the basis for modern society. Harrison traces the history of nineteenth-century France and, in parallel, the life course of these individuals as they grow up, learn independence, and take on the responsibilities and disappointments of adulthood. Although the shared goals of the romantic Catholics were never realized in French politics and culture, Harrison's work offers a significant corrective to the traditional understanding of the opposition between religion and the secular republican tradition in France.

As I read the introduction I thought how nineteenth century Catholics in both England and France had to rebuild their churches--the English after centuries of penal laws and martyrdom; the French after the Revolution, the Terror, and the revolutionary campaign of De-Christianization that led to destruction of churches, suppression of monasteries, and the martyrdom of priests and nuns. The difference for the French, as Harrison is explaining to me, is that as the Catholic laity worked to influence their society--re-evangelize it!--they also had to consider the Church's relationship with the monarchy and whether it was good for the Church or not. Harrison notes in the introduction that nineteenth century Catholics in France were for a time at least solidly ultramontane, ascribing the weakness of the Church in France during the Ancien Regime partially to its Cisalpine stance of loyalty to the Bourbons instead of the Papacy. More on Romantic Catholics after I've read it!

Then I have The Oxford Movement: Europe and the Wider World 1830-1930, edited by Stewart J. Brown and Peter B. Nockles from Cambridge:

The Oxford Movement transformed the nineteenth-century Church of England with a renewed conception of itself as a spiritual body. Initiated in the early 1830s by members of the University of Oxford, it was a response to threats to the established church posed by British Dissenters, Irish Catholics, Whig and Radical politicians, and the predominant evangelical ethos – what Newman called 'the religion of the day'. The Tractarians believed they were not simply addressing difficulties within their national Church, but recovering universal principles of the Christian faith. To what extent were their beliefs and ideals communicated globally? Was missionary activity the product of the movement's distinctive principles? Did their understanding of the Church promote, or inhibit, closer relations among the churches of the global Anglican Communion? This volume addresses these questions and more with a series of case studies involving Europe and the English-speaking world during the first century of the Movement.

My husband gave me both of these books for Mother's Day!

And finally, thanks to the Queen Anne Boleyn blog and Beth von Staats who introduced us in a way, I have received a review copy of God's Traitors: Terror and Faith in Elizabethan England, from the author herself, Jessie Childs!

The Catholics of Elizabethan England did not witness a golden age. Their Mass was banned, their priests were outlawed, their faith was criminalised. In an age of assassination and Armada, those Catholics who clung to their faith were increasingly seen as the enemy within. In this superb history, award-winning author Jessie Childs explores the Catholic predicament in Elizabethan England through the eyes of one remarkable family: the Vauxes of Harrowden Hall.

God’s Traitors is a tale of dawn raids and daring escapes, stately homes and torture chambers, ciphers, secrets and lies. From clandestine chapels and side-street inns to exile communities and the corridors of power, it exposes the tensions and insecurities masked by the cult of Gloriana. Above all, it is a timely story of courage and frailty, repression and reaction and the terrible consequences when religion and politics collide.

I may have to bump God's Traitors up in the queue after Romantic Catholics!

What are you reading, readers? Or planning to read?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Coincidentally, May 16 in 1532 and 1568

On May 16, 1532, Sir Thomas More resigned as Chancellor of England, succeeded by Thomas Audley. More concluded that he could not influence Henry VIII anymore. He might have hoped for some peace and quiet, but Henry and Cromwell wanted his approval and benediction. More did not attend the coronation of Anne Boleyn; in 1533 and 1534 he was accused of first, accepting bribes, and second of supporting Elizabeth Barton, the Nun of Kent. The first accusation was ridiculous and the second easily disposed of. Nevertheless, he ended up in the Tower of London in 1534 while the government continued to pressure him to take the Oaths of Supremacy and Succession. As he complained of chest pains before, his health deteriorated while in the Tower. 

On May 16, 1568, Mary Stuart, the deposed Queen of Scotland left that country after losing the Battle of Langside and escaped to England. She hoped for some support from Elizabeth Tudor to regain her throne. Instead, she was moved from castle to castle (Carlisle Castle, Bolton Castle, Tutbury, and Sheffield) under different degrees of comfort and activity while a trial was held to determine her guilt in her second husband, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley's death. The trial ended in a strange verdict and she was neither declared guilty or innocent. The only thing that was certain is that she was not going to return to Scotland as Queen. Mary was held under house arrest and became the focus of plots to remove Elizabeth from the throne of England. As she had been a very active person, riding and hunting, the enforced inactivity wore on her.

Both of them were finally brought to trial--Thomas More at Westminster Hall; Mary at Fotheringay Castle. Both St. Thomas More and Mary, Queen of Scots ended their lives kneeling before blocks of wood, waiting for the executioner's blow to fall--More on July 6, 1535 and Mary on February 8, 1587.

The Ordinariate Restart, Part II

In addition to the "Called to be One" effort at evangelization and growth of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham this September, there will be an "Ordinariate Festival". The New Liturgical Movement blog posts the details:

The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is to hold its first "Ordinariate Festival" in September this year. The guest of honour will be Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, who will deliver an address on the how the Ordinariate fits in to the life and mission of the wider Catholic Church in the United Kingdom. The festival, which will run over the weekend of Friday 19 September to Sunday 21 September, is expected to be the biggest gathering of clergy and faithful from the more than forty Ordinariate groups across the country, since the Ordinariate was established in the UK in January 2011.

The proceedings will begin on the evening of Friday 19 September with a reception at the home of the Ordinary, the Rt Revd Mgr Keith Newton and his wife, Gill, in Golden Square, Soho, which adjoins the Ordinariate's central church, Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory, Warwick Street. The main events will be on Saturday, 20 September, organised around Mass in Westminster Cathedral at 12.30. Before the Mass, Ordinariate groups will give presentations on aspects of their mission. In the afternoon Cardinal Nichols and the Ordinary will speak. The Ordinariate clergy and faithful will be encouraged to stay on in London so that they can attend the 103.30 Sung Mass on Sunday 21 September at Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory.

Read the rest here.

The Ordinary of the Ordinariate, Monsignor Keith Newton, has made his own comments on the role of his special "diocese" in re-evangelizing England (which even the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has admitted is not a Christian country--in spite of an establishment church!) in the Friends of the Ordinariate Newsletter:

The Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham Monsignor Keith Newton, has said the Ordinariate has a unique part to play in the New Evangelisation because of the way it "brings into modern Catholicism an ancient British expression of Christian life".

Writing in the Friends of the Ordinariate's Eastertide Newsletter, Mgr Newton quotes the words of Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, in which the Holy Father says that it is through the diversity of the countless people who have received and passed on the grace of faith "in the language of their own culture" that the Church expresses her genuine catholicity and shows forth the "beauty of her varied face".

Mgr Newton writes: "For centuries, a particularly English and ancient culture of Catholic truth has been treasured and guarded within the Church of England, while Anglicanism itself is interwoven into the culture of British society". The Ordinariate, Mgr Newton goes on, is a tool of profound importance in the New Evangelisation because it provides a bridge between the Catholic Church and deeply rooted elements of British religious culture.

Read the rest of his comments here in the newsletter.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Ordinariate Restart

The Ordinary of the Our Lady of Walsingham Personal Ordinariate has called for a restart of the Ordinariate. The Tablet reports on his comments at the Chrism Mass this past Holy Week:

The leader of the ordinariate has lamented the lack of growth of the group, set up in 2011 to allow former Anglicans to enter Communion with the Catholic Church.

Mgr Keith Newton, the ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, said more must be done to boost the numbers in the canonical structure, established under Pope Benedict XVI to allow Anglicans become Catholics while preserving their “Anglican patrimony”.

In a Chrism Mass homily on Monday, Mgr Newton conceded: “We must be honest and say the ordinariate has not grown as much as we hoped it might. The vision has not been caught … We must communicate our message much more widely and with more vigour and enthusiasm.”

The group, which has around 85 priests and 1,500 lay members, is preparing an “exploration day” on 6 September named “Called to be One”. Each “cluster” of ordinariate branches should “organise an event and invite those who might be interested to learn more about that vision for unity and truth in communion with the successor of Peter,” Mgr Newton said.

Those who led the Ordinariate in formation must have had an idea of how many from the Anglican Church could be coming, and know that many of those haven't come in to what Blessed John Henry Newman called "the one true fold of Christ". Therefore, in spite of all the excellent work achieved to date (the liturgy formation, a central church in London, various programs like the annual pilgrimage to Walsingham, The Portal newsletter, etc.), the Ordinariate needs to sustain growth to remain alive.

From the Ordinariate website:

The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham has announced the details of a major evangelisation initiative planned for September this year. Saturday, 6 September has been set aside as an "exploration day" when Ordinariate groups will organise local activities designed for people who are not currently part of the Ordinariate, but who wish to learn more about it. Among those invited to the events, which will be widely publicised, will be Anglicans - both lapsed and practising - who might be interested in the vision for truth and unity in communion with the successor of Peter which the Ordinariate offers. Typically, local events might include an address, a question and answer session with input from local lay members of the Ordinariate, refreshments and Evensong and/or Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

Speaking at the Ordinariate's Chrism Mass on 14 April, the Ordinary of the Ordinariate, Mgr Keith Newton, said the exploration day, which has been named "Called to be One", was part of renewed efforts on the Ordinariate's part to communicate its message "much more widely and with more vigour and enthusiasm".

Mgr Newton went on to remind the congregation of the vision that was set out in the Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus. He said: "It is to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared. It is this vision which we need to foster within our own communities and which we need to communicate, both with our fellow Catholics... but also with our friends and former colleagues in the Church of England and equally Anglicans who have lapsed from the practice of the Faith. It is an important work of ecumenism".

For the success of this program: Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us! Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for us!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

My Easter Mystagogy

Now that I have finished reading Volume I of Pope Benedict XVI's Jesus of Nazareth trilogy, I am reading an old book that is experiencing quite a revival: Romano Guardini's Meditations Before Mass. I have the 1959 "A Newman Paperback" from The Newman Press in Westminster, Maryland with me to read. I also have the hardcover edition from Sophia Institute Press (1993) on the shelf:

Sophia has reissued Guardini's book in a blue paperback (there's also an ebook) with an introduction by Archbishop Samuel Aquila:

The profound wisdom found in this Romano Guardini classic will help you to quiet your soul, concentrate your mind, and grow more receptive to God's grace in the Holy Mass.

Written for ordinary Catholics who are struggling to become closer to Christ,
Meditations Before Mass is full of wisdom and yet offers practical, straightforward advice that will help you overcome distractions and restlessness while leading you into a more enriching experience when you enter into Holy Communion with God.

Over fifty years ago, Msgr. Romano Guardini resolved to help his parishioners move beyond the petty hindrances to full participation in the Mass—hindrances to which we are all prone. Just before Mass each Sunday, he gave a brief talk on some aspect of the Mass, teaching them week by week, topic by topic, how to prepare themselves to participate more prayerfully.

So helpful were these 32 talks that they were soon published and have since been reprinted countless times in numerous countries and languages, helping generations of Catholics to deepen their devotion during Mass

And Ave Maria Press has issued their own edition (also with an ebook), with an introduction by Reverend Eugene F. Hemrick:

A treasury of spiritual wisdom on how to prepare your mind, body, and heart for Mass from one of the twentieth century’s great theologians, Meditations before Mass is Romano Guardini’s smart and beautiful guide to spiritual preparation for the source and summit of Christian worship.

Meditations before Mass is a wise, pastoral, and timeless classic on preparing for Mass—it is an example of twentieth-century theologian Romano Guardini at his very best. Meditations before Mass was written before Vatican II, but its relevance has endured over the past sixty years. Not a “how to” book for either the old or the new Roman Rite, it is instead a spiritual feast for the mind and heart, and a guide for modern people who wish to make sense of the Church’s feasts and liturgies. Meditations before Mass has helped thousands of readers participate more fully in Christian liturgy and continues to do so today.

In the early 1990's Sophia Institute Press began to re-issue many titles by Monsignor Romano Guardini, and I (just as I had with Thomas B. Costain's books) bought and read them all: 

The Inner Life of Jesus
The Rosary of Our Lady
Living the Drama of Faith
And the Word Dwelt Upon Us
The Art of Praying

Then I found more:
The Lord
The End of the Modern World
Sacred Signs
The Spirit of the Liturgy

The last title, you might recall, was re-used by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in 2000, paying homage to Guardini's great efforts in the renewal of liturgy before the Second Vatican Council. As then Cardinal Ratzinger stated in the foreword to his book The Spirit of the Liturgy, "My purpose here is to assist this renewal of understanding of the Liturgy. Its basic intentions coincide with what Guardini wanted to achieve. The only difference is that I have had to translate what Guardini did at the end of the First World War, in a totally different historical situation, into the context of our present-day questions, hopes and dangers. Like Guardini, I am not attempting to involve myself with scholarly discussion and research. I am simply offering an aid to the understanding of the faith and to the right way to give the faith its central form of expression in the Liturgy."