Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Next Week at Wichita's Spiritual Life Center

Just a reminder that I'll be presenting the first of two topics on Blessed John Henry Newman next Tuesday evening at the Spiritual Life Center in Wichita, Kansas. On Tuesday, October 7, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m., I'll be discussing "Newman and Conversion".

While preparing for these classes--the second topic is Conscience--I found the perfect quotation from Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (before he became Pope Benedict XVI) that demonstrates the connection between the two topics (quoted on the flyer):

Newman had become a convert as a man of conscience; it was his conscience that led him out of the old ties and securities into the world of Catholicism, which was difficult and strange for him. But this way of conscience is everything except a way of self-sufficient subjectivity: it is a way of obedience to objective truth.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger made this crucial comment in a presentation at a symposium sponsored by the International Centre of Newman Friends in the centenary year of Newman's death (1890-1990). He noted that Newman's teaching on conscience was so crucial to him after the Second World War and the fall of Hitler and the Nazi party: 

We had experienced the claim of a totalitarian party, which understood itself as the fulfilment of history and which negated the conscience of the individual. One of its leaders had said: "I have no conscience. My conscience is Adolf Hitler". The appalling devastation of humanity that followed was before our eyes.

The next year, in February 1991, Cardinal Ratzinger spoke to the United States' Catholic Bishops in Dallas, Texas about conscience and authority. Then he pointed out the crucial link between conscience and authority in Newman's thought: the truth.

First, Ratzinger comments--much as Newman did in his own day--on our modern tendency to create opposition between conscience and authority:

For him, conscience stands on the side of subjectivity and is the expression of the freedom of the subject. Authority, on the other hand, appears to him as the constraint on, threat to and even the negation of, freedom. So then we must go deeper to recover a vision in which this kind of opposition does not obtain.

Then Ratzinger highlights Newman's search for truth:

For Newman, the middle term which establishes the connection between authority and subjectivity is truth. I do not hesitate to say that truth is the central thought of Newman's intellectual grappling. Conscience is central for him because truth stands in the middle. To put it differently, the centrality of the concept conscience for Newman, is linked to the prior centrality of the concept truth and can only be understood from this vantage point. 

That's why when Charles Kingsley attacked Newman with the claim that Newman had said that truth did not matter to Catholic priests, Newman had to respond so seriously and comprehensively to this falsehood. For someone to whom truth meant everything to be accused of condoning dishonestly was utterly unacceptable. When Kingsley would not retract his statement, Newman answered with his Apologia pro Vita Sua which truly made Kingsley's comment so patently absurd that Newman's spiritual autobiography now stands on its own, without the catalyst.

More about the series and information about registration at the Spiritual Life Center is here.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Mozart's Salzburg Church Sonatas

Over our 23-year and counting marriage, my husband and I have purchased many compact discs of many musical types: I'm a little bit classical and he's a little bit rock and roll. We went "shopping" in the cd racks last Friday night and found this 1988 recording of Mozart's Church Sonatas, or Epistle Sonatas with Peter Hurford as organist, the Amsterdam Mozart Players, and several other artists.

So soon after reading Mosebach's book on Catholic liturgy, I thought of how strangely these musical interludes must have broken up the celebration of the Mass. They were performed between the Epistle and the Gospel and thus pre-empted the Gradual and the Alleluia! They are all sprightly and, as the liner notes say, "their purpose was to highlight and herald the proclamation of the Gospel", to announce the Good News and thus all are in Major keys.

Mozart wrote them for the two Archbishops of Salzburg he served, Sigismund and Colloredo. Also according to the liner notes by Ann Bond, three of these 17 Epistle Sonatas were designated for specific Masses, and I've linked recordings of two of those Masses that include the Epistle Sonata:

K263 with the Organ Mass, K259
K329 with the Coronation Mass, K317 (conducted by the late Christopher Hogwood)
K336 with the Missa Solemnis, K337

The cd is still readily available at Amazon.com and other online cd shops--ours has the London logo, not the Decca.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

WWI Memoir: "Testament of Youth"

I read Testament of Youth while or after watching the 1980 Masterpiece Theatre five episode mini-series starring Cheryl Campbell as Vera Brittain:

All young Vera Brittain wanted at first was the opportunity to go to college, like her brother. That may not sound like much now, but middle class young ladies from small towns were expected to settle down with spouses, not studies, in pre-World War I England. This dramatization of Vera Brittain's 1933 autobiography--a memorial to a generation devastated by World War I--chronicles her experiences as a nurse in London and Malta and at the front in France. It also tells in heartbreaking detail the loss of her brother, her fiancé, and her two best friends on the fields of France and Italy.

Next year a new movie will be released that adapts her memoir. From the early trailer, it looks like the movie might focus on the romance and not continue the story of Brittain's return to Oxford after the war:

The movie filmed earlier this year at the University of Oxford so at least there will be some glimpses of its towers and streets. I wonder if the movie will quote the poem Roland Leighton wrote to Vera:

The sunshine on the long white road
That ribboned down the hill,
The velvet clematis that clung
Around your window-sill
Are waiting for you still.

Again the shadowed pool shall break
In dimples at your feet,
And when the thrush sings in your wood,
Unknowing you may meet
Another stranger, Sweet.

And if he is not quite so old
As the boy you used to know,
And less proud, too, and worthier,
You may not let him go---
(And daisies are truer than passion-flowers)
It will be better so.

I also wonder if Dorothy L. Sayers is featured in the movie at all--they both attended Somerville College, which was opened for women to attend Oxford in 1879. Here are their biographies on the college website: Dorothy L. Sayers and Vera Brittain.

"The Man Who Wouldn't be King"--and Should Have Been

Father Dwight Longenecker writes for the Imaginative Conservative about James III, the true heir to the throne of England, who would  not give up his faith for the throne---even though, as Winston Churchill noted, the Tories would have supported him in 1714 if he became an Anglican and he would have become the King of England, Ireland, and Wales:

In 1660 Charles II was restored to the throne. Under the influence of his Catholic brother and wife, Charles II converted to the Catholic faith on his deathbed. His brother James then became King James II. James II was a Catholic. He assured his Protestant subjects that all he wished to do was to establish religious freedom, but at the birth of a male heir the Protestant powers, fearful that James would establish a Catholic succession, undermined him and installed his Protestant daughter Mary (from his first marriage) and her husband William of Orange on his throne. James fled to France where he established a court in exile.

On his death in 1701 James’ II’s oldest son became the rightful claimant of the throne of England. James Francis Edward Stuart, Prince of Wales was recognized as King James III by France, Spain and the Papal States, but he was accused of treason at home and known by his enemies as “The King Over the Water” or “The Old Pretender.” In 1708 James attempted an invasion of England through Scotland but was intercepted by the English. The French admiral in charge of James’ fleet retreated. By 1710 James’ other half-sister Anne was on the throne of England. She offered for James to be restored to the throne if he converted to the Protestant faith. He refused.

Three years later Queen Anne was close to death. In 1714 her agents were in secret correspondence with James III. They told him the queen was dying and indicated that if he converted to the Protestant faith the way would be open for him to ascend the throne. He wrote, “I have chosen my own course, therefore it is for others to change their sentiments.” Because of James’ refusal to give up his Catholic faith, the English looked for another monarch. More than fifty members of the royal houses of Europe were a closer blood relation to Queen Anne, but they were barred from the throne by their Catholic religion. Therefore at the Queen’s death, a German prince from the House of Hanover was offered the throne of England and became George I.

 Pope Clement XI offered the disappointed King the Palazzo Muti in Rome and James set up his court in exile. His attempts to regain the throne failed and he suffered from melancholy and depression. He became known as “Old Mr. Misfortunate” and grew increasingly frail and despondent.

The Old Pretender's marriage to Maria Clementina Sobieska, grand-daughter of the great victor of Vienna, was unhappy. She accused him of adultery and fled to a convent; it was two years before they reconciled. James III had been raised at St. Germain-en-Laye in France to be a king, receiving the education necessary to prepare him for that role; but he had also been raised as an observant Catholic and would not apostatize. His son, the Young Pretender, Bonnie Prince Charlie, would attempt a brief foray into Anglicanism, hoping to find support for the throne, but failed too and then repented and returned to the Catholic faith.
James III is rather the opposite of Henri IV of France--England was not well worth giving up the Mass!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Hebrew Manuscripts at Fox's Corpus Christi

In The Wall Street Journal, Richard Carwardine writes "Out of the Anglo-Jewish Past", about a Hebrew prayer book in the Corpus Christi College library:

Corpus Christi College, which will reach its 500th birthday in 2017, is celebrated as Oxford's first Renaissance institution. The bishop-statesman Richard Fox, right-hand man to the Tudor monarchs Henry VII and Henry VIII, founded the college to instruct students in the sciences and the languages of the Bible: Hebrew and Greek. From the first, Corpus took a lead in Jewish learning and built an acclaimed library. Among the scores of manuscripts the college used for teaching its young men were Hebrew texts, several donated by the first president and noted collector, John Claymond. How and when he acquired them we don't know—and this is only a part of their mystery. They are the jewels of a small but spectacular collection of medieval Anglo-Jewish books.

These materials shaped the scholarship that gave Corpus a primary role in the translation of the King James Bible. The 400th anniversary of that publication, in 2011, sparked particular interest in the Hebrew manuscripts at Corpus. These include commentaries by the acclaimed medieval French rabbi, Rashi; other items present passages from the Hebrew Bible with a literal translation in Latin written, from the outset, directly above the Hebrew text. They point to the cooperation between Jewish and Christian scholars, eager to help non-Jews learn Hebrew and understand the primary sources of a shared scriptural tradition. The texts could equally have been used to teach Jews Latin—not impossible, given that most English law, property transactions and accounting were conducted in Latin. Command of the language would have been especially beneficial to Jewish financiers in doing business.

Read the rest there. Note that Mr Carwardine is the president of Corpus Christi College, which will observe its 500th anniversary in 2017. More about the College's Hebrew manuscripts here at the Bodleian Library website from a previous exhibition.

The Real Tudors Exhibition and Review

I mentioned this exhibition earlier this year. If you can't get to London year or Paris next year, you could order the book that accompanies the exhibition:

Who were the Tudor kings and queens and what did they really look like? Mention Henry VIII and the familiar image of the rotund, bearded fellow of Hans Holbein the Youngers portraits immediately springs to mind reinforced, perhaps, by memories of a monochromatic Charles Laughton wielding a chicken leg in a fanciful biopic. With Elizabeth I its frilly ruffs, white make-up and pink lips in fact, just as she appears in a number of very well-known portraits held in the Collection of the National Portrait Gallery in London. But the familiarity of these representations has overshadowed the other images of the Tudor monarchs that were produced throughout their reigns. During the sixteenth century the market for portraits grew and so the monarchs images multiplied as countless versions and copies of their likeness were produced to satisfy demand. Taken together, these images chart both the changing iconography of the ruler and the development of portrait painting in England. In considering the context in which these portraits were made, the motivations of the sitters and the artists who made them, the purposes to which they were put, and the physical transformations and interventions they have undergone in the intervening five centuries, the authors present a compelling and illuminating investigation into the portraiture of the Tudor monarchs.

This review contains the startling inaccuracy that Elizabeth I was "Britain's first female ruler"--startling because all of the biographical work completed in the past few years on Mary I, pointing out her role as the first queen regnant of England:

For all the political hurly burly, social change and religious upheaval of the Tudor period and the intriguing personal histories of its monarchs, it is surely the portraits of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I that have done most to secure the Tudors in popular imagination. I first saw a portrait of Elizabeth while at primary school and was enthralled by the startling contrast of red hair and pale skin, that impossibly tiny waist disappearing into a sharp V, the dress a marvel of engineering as much as couture and as extravagantly embellished as a little girl’s wildest imaginings could demand.

Far from the simpering pink princesses so beloved of little girls now, Elizabeth's image remains compelling because it achieves a feat unusual even in today’s liberated society, combining beauty and glamour with the hard edge of unassailable power. As Britain’s first female ruler, Elizabeth’s gender was a problem to be overcome, and her portraits trace the development of her image from demure princess to Virgin Queen. While her image remains within the traditional parameters of womanhood – elegant, sumptuously dressed and exhibiting a cool sort of beauty – her portraits suppress her sexuality entirely. By transcending gender she was able to assert her absolute authority and her divine right to rule. . . .

The notion of political unrest providing the stimulus for the production of portraits is a recurring one in the display, which is the result of a long-running NPG research project. Bringing together multiple portraits of the Tudor monarchs and combining technical analysis with art historical research, the curators have produced a wealth of evidence about techniques, workshop practices and the composition of individual paintings, evoking a buoyant art market doing a brisk trade in royal portraits. In dangerous and uncertain times, displaying a portrait of the king must have seemed a sensible precaution, and the political turmoil caused by Henry VIII’s break with Rome seems likely to have fuelled the growing appetite for his image.

The website for the exhibition provides lots of background and samples of the works on display.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Book Review: The Heresy of Formlessness

I purchased this book at Eighth Day Books, BTW. Martin Mosebach is a Catholic German layman, a writer (novels, screenplays, short stories, poems, essays, etc). Ignatius Press published this translation of his book on the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Liturgy of the Roman Rite with a foreword by Father Joseph Fessio, SJ in 2006.

Sure to be the subject of much discussion, this book takes a look at the post Vatican II approach to liturgy through the eyes of a man who says the Church has lost much and gained nothing through the promulgation of the “Novus Ordo” Mass. An accomplished novelist and writer, German author Martin Mosebach gives a plea for a return to the preconciliar Latin Rite, giving a persuasive and compelling argument against what he sees as a jarring break in tradition. Yet there is another way to approach the Liturgy.

In his foreword, Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J., points out the difference between Mosebach’s approach and “those who, like myself, the Adoremus Society, and—I think I can assert this with confidence—Pope Benedict XVI, advocate a rereading and restructuring of the liturgical renewal intended by the Second Vatican Council, but in light of the Church’s two-thousand-year tradition.”

Mosebach writes about his experience of the changes in the Mass after the Second Vatican Council with the regret that he has had to become a liturgical specialist. Instead of actual participation in the Mass, he has had to experience the Mass because of the changes to the liturgy and their effect on Catholic theology and belief. In these essays, he discusses everything from Latin, to Gregorian chant, Catholics' belief in the Real Presence, veiling, gestures, art, iconoclasm, and beauty. He even discusses problems with the way that the Extraordinary Form of the Mass IS celebrated with the delays caused by the choir's singing of the parts of the Mass! One passage I thought particularly unfortunate was his regret that the priest would speak in the vernacular to give a homily and perhaps even make parish announcements. Since the homily or sermon has always been part of the Mass, and since the Mass is celebrated most often at least in the context of a parish with activities and community events, his concern that the homily breaks through the mystery of the liturgy and disrupts the Mass with the personality of the priest seems all too pedantic to me.

This is a collection of essays, and even includes a chapter from a novel, and is a very personal book, even in translation.The author's interest in and knowledge of history and art shine through clearly, as does his passion for holy worship of God in the liturgy.

As I have been attending Sunday Mass in the Extraordinary Form for several years, I'm glad to say that recently I have been able to put aside the Missal at certain points of the liturgy and enter into the mystery of the Sacrifice without reading it. Thus my worship is less literary and more sacramental, I hope.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Unfree Speech at Berkeley

Sol Stern remembers how it was supposed to be in contrast to how it is now, in The Wall Street Journal:

This fall the University of California at Berkeley is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement, a student-led protest against campus restrictions on political activities that made headlines and inspired imitators around the country. I played a small part in the Free Speech Movement, and some of those returning for the reunion were once my friends, but I won't be joining them. 

Though the movement promised greater intellectual and political freedom on campus, the result has been the opposite. The great irony is that while Berkeley now honors the memory of the Free Speech Movement, it exercises more thought control over students than the hated institution that we rose up against half a century ago. . . .

"Tenured radicals," in New Criterion editor Roger Kimball's phrase, now dominate most professional organizations in the humanities and social studies. Unlike our old liberal professors, who dealt respectfully with the ideas advanced by my generation of New Left students, today's radical professors insist on ideological conformity and don't take kindly to dissent by conservative students. Visits by speakers who might not toe the liberal line—recently including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Islamism critic Aayan Hirsi Ali —spark protests and letter-writing campaigns by students in tandem with their professors until the speaker withdraws or the invitation is canceled.

On Oct. 1 at Berkeley, by contrast, one of the honored speakers at the Free Speech Movement anniversary rally on Sproul Plaza will be Bettina Aptheker, who is now a feminist-studies professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Writing in the Berkeley alumni magazine about the anniversary, Ms. Aptheker noted that the First Amendment was "written by white, propertied men in the 18th century, who never likely imagined that it might apply to women, and/or people of color, and/or all those who were not propertied, and even, perhaps, not citizens, and/or undocumented immigrants. . . . In other words, freedom of speech is a Constitutional guarantee, but who gets to exercise it without the chilling restraints of censure depends very much on one's location in the political and social cartography. We [Free Speech Movement] veterans were too young and inexperienced in 1964 to know this, but we do now, and we speak with a new awareness, a new consciousness, and a new urgency that the wisdom of a true freedom is inexorably tied to who exercises power and for what ends."

Read it and weep—for the Free Speech Movement anniversary, for the ideal of an intellectually open university, and for America. 

In other words, Bettina Aptheker is now the one who gets to decide which speech is free and which is not free. FYI: Sol Stern "is a contributing editor of City Journal and a Manhattan Institute senior fellow. He writes passionately on education reform, and his writings on that topic have helped shape the terms of the current debate in New York City."

Monday, September 22, 2014

Richard III on The Son Rise Morning Show

I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show this morning at 7:45 a.m. Eastern/6:45 a.m. Central time to talk about the religious services and controversy about the reinterment of the remains of King Richard III, the last king of the House of York. You can listen live here.

As background I offer these two links: my comments on the events, and William Oddie's from The Catholic Herald!

By the way, the schedule is:

*Sunday, 22 March 2015
Leicester Cathedral
The remains of Richard III will be received into the cathedral and an invited congregation will pray a service of Compline where Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, will preach.

*Monday, 23 March 2015
Holy Cross Church, Leicester
Cardinal Nichols will celebrate Mass for the repose of the soul – a ‘Requiem Mass’ – of Richard III in Holy Cross Church, the Catholic parish church and Dominican priory in Leicester city centre. The choir from St Barnabas’ Cathedral, the Cathedral of the Diocese of Nottingham, will sing at this Mass, which will be open to the public.

*Thursday, 26 March 2015
Leicester Cathedral
The mortal remains of Richard III will be reinterred in Leicester Cathedral, with an invited congregation and in the presence of the Most Revd Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury and senior clergy from both dioceses, and other Christian denominations alongside representatives of the World Faiths.

*Friday, 27 March 2015
Leicester Cathedral
Invited guests from across the city of Leicester and the county of Leicestershire will gather in the Cathedral to mark the end of King Richard’s journey and the sealed tomb will be revealed to the public.

In addition:

The regular pattern of morning and evening prayer and the Eucharist will be kept by Leicester Cathedral throughout these days as we prepare for the King’s reinterment. A number of these services will have a very special character. All these services will be open to the public.

On Tuesday 24 March the Dominican friars will sing Vespers, the Catholic Church’s evening service, in Leicester Cathedral; this is in addition to the daily celebration of Mass and the divine office in Holy Cross Church.

On Wednesday 25 March, Father David Rocks OP, the parish priest at Holy Cross Church, will preach at the lunchtime Eucharist in Leicester Cathedral.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Today in Oklahoma City

Today is the day of the horrible mockery of the Catholic Mass in Oklahoma City: some 88 people have paid the price of admission at the Civic Center to attend. Five buses from the diocese of Wichita, Kansas are on the way, filled with Catholics praying and offering reparation. Although the group conducting the Black Mass says that they returned he consecrated Host, the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present under the form of unleavened bread, it will still mock the Mass and horribly call upon Satan to exorcise the Holy Spirit--and can we really trust that they don't have another consecrated Host? Too terrible to imagine!

Archbishop Paul Coakley published another letter to his flock and the public with some last minute guidance:

On Sunday, Sept. 21, we will gather for a public act of worship at St. Francis of Assisi Church. I invite all Catholics as well as other Christians and people of good will to join us for a Eucharistic Holy Hour, an outdoor Eucharistic procession and Benediction beginning at 3 p.m. We will prayerfully bear witness to our faith as an expression of our solidarity and in reparation for acts of blasphemy.

I am aware that other groups are planning to show their opposition to the blasphemous event that evening at the Civic Center. I urgently ask everyone to avoid confrontations with those who might oppose them. Our witness ought to be reverent, respectful and peaceful. I urge those who might plan to attend the black mass in order to pray or to protest not to do so! Please do not enter the venue. It would be presumptuous and dangerous to expose oneself to others to these evil influences.    

Finally, let us demonstrate our faith in the power of the Lord’s grace by praying for the conversion of those who are perpetrating this sacrilege and are bound by the Evil One. “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” (Mt 5:44,45)

One of the unexpected (by the organizers, I'm sure) results of this event in Oklahoma City--also in Cambridge at Harvard University earlier this year--is that it reminds Catholics of one of the most central facts of our Catholic Faith. Every day of year (except Good Friday, of course), Jesus comes to us in his Body and Blood in Holy Communion, just as he promised his followers in the Gospel of St. John:

I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world." The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?" Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever." These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. Then many of his disciples who were listening said, "This saying is hard; who can accept it?" Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, "Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe." Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, "For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father." As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to leave?" Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.

I have been working on a project about St. Thomas More in the Tower, preparing for martyrdom. Before his arrest he wrote his Treatise on the Blessed Sacrament in which he defended Catholic teaching about the Mass and the Eucharist, particularly writing about the preparations a Catholic should made before receiving Holy Communion:

We must (I say) see, that we firmly believe that this Blessed Sacrament is not a bare sign, or a figure, or a token of that Holy Body of Christ: but that It is in perpetual remembrance of His bitter Passion, that He suffered for us, the self-same precious Body of Christ that suffered it, by His own Almighty power and unspeakable goodness consecrated and given unto us.

And this point of belief is in the receiving of this Blessed Sacrament of such necessity, and such weight with them that have years of discretion, that without it they receive It plainly to their damnation. And that point believed very full and fastly must needs be a great occasion to move any man in all other points to receive It well. For note well the words of St. Paul therein: Qui manducat de hoc pane, et bibit de calice indigne judicium sibi manducat et bibit, non dijudicans corpus Domini. He that eateth of this Bread and drinketh of this cup, unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment upon himself in that, he discerneth not the Body of our Lord. (2 Cor. 11.)

William Oddie on Next Year's Interment of the Catholic Richard III as an Anglican Protestant

William Oddie at The Catholic Herald outlines the reasons for regretting that Richard III isn't to be buried in a Catholic church with a Catholic Mass and prayers for the dead:

The point is that he was the last of the Plantagenets and therefore a Catholic King, almost the last (only his usurper remained nominally faithful before the great apostasy): so he ought to be being reinterred in a Catholic cathedral. What is there about that proposition which is even slightly controversial? It may not have been politically doable for our bishops to insist on it: but it is quite clear that the way in which the whole thing is to unfold, with the tacit agreement of the Bishops’ conference, has to be seen as a defeat for the English Catholic Church: it is, in microcosm, a narrative demonstration of our current position within English culture. And I am writing this because someone needs to say that the gruesome ecumenical subservience this indicates ought now to be challenged and repudiated by all English Catholics.

It may of course be that relations are not as calm as they appear on the surface. Is it my imagination, or has there, in fact, been some behind the scenes discord over all this? The reinterment will take place in the presence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, as though Richard had been rendered posthumously protestant. Cardinal Nichols, so far as I can see, will not be present. Was he asked? This is what the Cardinal had to say about the whole thing: “The death of King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 was a decisive moment in English history. Following his death, Richard III was buried in the Franciscan Friary in Leicester, and his body lay in its grave until it was discovered in 2012. It is now fitting that his remains should be reinterred with dignity and accompanied by the prayers of the Church in Leicester Cathedral, the mediaeval parish church of Leicester. We commend all who have died to the love and mercy of Almighty God, and continue to pray for them, as we shall for Richard III and all who have lost their lives in battle.”

Now, this is strangely worded, considering who wrote it. “The death of King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485”, says the Cardinal “was a decisive moment in English history”. Well obviously: but why was it so decisive? Because it placed on the throne the dynasty which renounced papal authority and made it illegal to pray for the departed; which invented the Church of England with all its doctrinal baggage; and which inaugurated a persecution of English Cathoiics which lasted at least four hundred years and which in some ways (though much milder) still persists. The Battle of Bosworth wasn’t just “decisive”: from a Catholic perspective, it was catastrophic. The reinterment of Richard III by a protestant archbishop may be considered to be a triumphal demonstration of how firmly in place still is the anti-Catholic ascendancy that Bosworth made possible.

Perhaps we should view this as a re-set from Father Tomlinson's more hopeful view yesterday--Catholics and the English Catholic past are still so very foreign in England--and the Ordinariate has a lot of work to do!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Undoing the Whig Tradition: Mary, Queen of Scots

G.K. Chesterton wrote about our common images of Mary, Queen of Scots and Elizabeth, Queen of England (in his day there was only one Elizabeth!) in an essay titled "The Slavery of the Mind" in The Thing--we read this essay last night for our Wichita branch of the American Chesterton Society:

I could give many other examples of what I mean by this imaginative bondage. It is to be found in the strange superstition of making sacred figures out of certain historical characters; who must not be moved from their stiff symbolic attitudes. Even their bad qualities are sacred. Much new light has lately been thrown on Queen Elizabeth and Mary Stuart. It is not only favourable to Mary but on the whole favourable to Elizabeth. It seems pretty certain that Mary did not plot to kill Darnley. It seems highly probable that Elizabeth did not plot to kill Mary. But many people are quite as tenderly attached to the idea of a merciless Elizabeth as to that of a murderous Mary. That a man devoted to Protestantism should rejoice that Elizabeth succeeded, that a man devoted to Catholicism should wish that Mary had succeeded--all that would be perfectly natural and rational. But Elizabeth was not Protestantism; and it ought not to disturb anybody to discover that she was hardly a Protestant. It ought to be even less gratification to her supporters to insist that she was a tyrant. But there is a sort of waxwork history, that cannot be happy unless Elizabeth has an axe and Mary a dagger. This sense of fixed and sacred figures ought to belong to a religion; but a historical speculation is not a religion.

On her blog, Tea at Trianon, Elena Maria Vidal (author of the forthcoming The Paradise Tree and other historical novels), cites an article that argues for a new view of Mary, Queen of Scots:

The image of Mary which comes down to us through the biased lens of Protestant history is a classic case of ‘blaming the victim.’ The Whig historians of the British Empire depicted her as weak-willed and excessively romantic – so hopeless, in fact, that she ‘deserved’ her fate.

The real Mary Stuart, however, appears to unbiased eyes as guileless and forthright, clearly possessed of intelligence and character sufficient to survive a life rife with calamity – and still to keep her wits and charm about her.

Daughter of King James V of Scotland and Mary of Guise of France, Mary Stuart became Queen of Scotland at her father’s death. She was six days old. What followed were certainly her happiest years – her youth spent in the French court, educated by devoted French religious.

She was then married to the sickly Francis, son of Henry II and Catherine de Medici, whom she treated with kindness. His death two years later followed that of her own mother; she was eighteen years old.

Grieving her losses, Mary nevertheless stalwartly acknowledged her royal obligations, and left her merry France for dismal Scotland. It was a country engulfed in religious turmoil, with significant political opposition entrenched against her. The stern Puritans who followed John Knox made much of her elegant French wardrobe; she was said to have arrived with more than 20 lavish black gowns, the height of French fashion.

Regardless of their politics, however, the Scots were inevitably struck by Mary’s beauty, charm, sweetness of character and gentleness of spirit. An eyewitness relates that “In one of the … processions Mary was moving along with the rest, through a crowd of spectators, and the light from her torch fell upon her features and upon her hair in such a manner as to make her appear more beautiful than usual. A woman, standing there, pressed up nearer to her to view her more closely, and, seeing how beautiful she was, asked her if she was not an ‘angel’.

Chesterton would agree! How does he do that--I read something on-line and he's already written about it, and I just then happen to be reading about what he said about it!

The Ordinariate as Rebuilder of "Authentic English Catholicism"

One of the fruits of the recent Ordinariate outreach earlier this month, Called to Be One, is this speech by Father Ed Tomlinson , leader of the Tunbridge Wells Ordinariate group on how the Ordinariate can help rebuild what was lost of English Catholicism through Henry VIII's and Elizabeth I's Reformations:

People picture the Catholic Church as rigid. Yet in reality it is incredibly diverse; it has different Rites, Antiocheon and Armenian, and even variety within the Latin Rite, Dominicans differ from Jesuits. And historically there has been diversity between local Churches in different countries. Because the Catholic church isn’t ONE church so much as MANY united by the papacy. Each having developed unique charisms- cultural and spiritual gifts to be treasured- that it might speak at a local as well as universal level. Which is why it’s dumb when they label us Roman Catholics. We are not, they live in Italy. We are English Catholics. And tonight I want to consider what that means…

But this isn’t an easy task because English Catholicism lost so much of its cultural identity during the reformation. Prior to that the Catholic faith had defined what it meant to be English. The great Cathedrals and Norman and Saxon churches were built. Oxford and Cambridge founded. Schools and Hospitals built and art, music and architecture of the highest standard produced. Many things people now assume were ever Anglican were, in truth, Catholic in origin and inspiration.

To be English was to be Catholic. And English Catholicism had a fine reputation the world over. Consider our patron St Anselm’s contribution to philosophy from his seat in Canterbury. Or the architecture of the fine English Cathedrals. History tells us then – authentic English Catholicism was imbued with high culture. A thirst for liturgical, academic, cultural and spiritual excellence.

But then comes the reformation and the “English Way” was decimated. What was distinct about English Catholicism, from say French or Spanish Catholicism, was smashed to pieces by Henry VIII-like a vase thrown to the ground. A helpful image that suggests any quest to rediscover English Catholicism is a task in relocating those separated pieces and bringing them back to the whole. A work of unity- in other words.

Father Tomlinson provides some insights into the long period of recusancy in England and how those recusants maintained Catholicism in England, but being hidden and underground without influence on English culture (except for fear, I suppose); then he examines the renewal of Catholicism in England at least partially by foreign missionaries--all the while using that analogy of putting that broken vase back together by restoring the base. Then he reminds his listeners of Pope Benedict XVI's great vision in establishing the Anglican Ordinariate structure;

By establishing the Ordinariate Pope Benedict gave a shot in the arm to the rebuilding of authentic English Catholicism. He reached out to Anglicans who retained aspects of the pre-reformation way. That is he picked up a broken fragment of what Henry once smashed in the hope of restoring it to its rightful base.

His hope that the Catholic church in England might be helped in its mission because the Ordinariate can deliver a very English flavour. We speak to those raised on Mattins culturally. Building a door into the Catholic church so much easier for Englishmen to open. Hence the CDF proclaimed us ‘on the front row of ecumenism’. We can help recall a nation to its historic faith using its own rites and language. At least that is the hope.

It was for the evangelisation of England then that the Ordinariate was established. At present a fragile shoot -it needs support- but it with huge potential for the future. Many Catholics have long been about the conversion of England. We come to do our bit. For we are another part of the broken vase- the first wave of reformers coming home as groups together- that we might be One.

Very worthwhile to read--it's even available as a .pdf for easy printing and reading (slowly!)

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Ordinariate at Our Lady of Walsingham

I have not posted much on Ordinariate news lately, but there are some great updates at the website of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham this month. The Ordinariate held its Called to be One event reaching out to Anglicans on September 7 and now they have an Ordinariate Festival coming up this weekend.

Here's a new opportunity for the Ordinariate that seems so perfectly fitting: the Marist order priests who have been at the Catholic shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham (remember that there are two, one Anglican and one Catholic) are leaving. Who better to take over than the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham? Monsignor Andrew Burnham made the proposal in a post on The Tablet blog, mentioning that it would benefit both the shrine and the Ordinariate:

The Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, in these early years, is looked upon with nervousness from outside.  Fellow Catholics have not all learnt yet that Ordinariate Catholics are no more different from them than Catholics of a different diocese.  Some Anglicans remain to be convinced that the ordinariate is the new ecumenical instrument for all they most value to be brought into the full communion of the Catholic Church.  The ordinariate is intrinsically a matter of congregations and groups, rather than individual priests, and it is not immediately obvious how a group would generate itself in the right part of East Anglia to focus day-by-day on Walsingham.   There are plenty of reasons, therefore, why the vision might grow pale and become a dream.   And yet there is certainly a window of opportunity and, as devotees of the Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Walsingham, all attest, “He that is mighty” has magnified her.  All generations shall call her blessed.  This then is a time for imagination and boldness and for love to conquer fear

The Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham is next week on September 24!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Reading Slowly; Reading Out Loud

I think that I am a skillful and attentive reader: I was taught how to read and study texts carefully throughout my education. Perhaps one reason is that I read slowly. I also write about what I read (even as I'm reading), read one book at a time, and I even sometimes read aloud. There are times when the text requires reading aloud: poetry should be read by ear to hear the music (if there isn't any verbal music, it isn't poetry, no matter how wide the margins are on the page); works that were prepared to be spoken should be read aloud--I once belonged to a "Lovers of Newman" group and we met to read Blessed John Henry Newman's sermons aloud. That way we got the impact of his skillful rhetoric; the way he built his argument, used his examples, delivered his call.

Jeanne Whalen writes in The Wall Street Journal about the benefits of reading books and articles slowly and silently, getting away from social media, and concentrating on one thing: the text:

Slow reading advocates seek a return to the focused reading habits of years gone by, before Google, smartphones and social media started fracturing our time and attention spans. Many of its advocates say they embraced the concept after realizing they couldn't make it through a book anymore.

"I wasn't reading fiction the way I used to," said Meg Williams, a 31-year-old marketing manager for an annual arts festival who started the club. "I was really sad I'd lost the thing I used to really, really enjoy."

Slow readers list numerous benefits to a regular reading habit, saying it improves their ability to concentrate, reduces stress levels and deepens their ability to think, listen and empathize. The movement echoes a resurgence in other old-fashioned, time-consuming pursuits that offset the ever-faster pace of life, such as cooking the "slow-food" way or knitting by hand.

Whalen also provides insight into the way we read on a screen and how that has changed the way we read a text. We certainly can't appreciate a great work of art by scanning it--and think how scanning The Holy Bible would change the impact of reading God's sacred word!

Read the rest here: slowly.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Dawson's Six Ages

Last Saturday, my husband and I attended a class on Dawson and Church History at the Spiritual Life Center here in Wichita. The presenter, Jackie Arnold, had written her master's thesis on this organizing principle of Catholic Church history. She had her reading suggestions for Church history, but I introduced her and the class to John Vidmar's one-volume book The Catholic Church Through the Ages: A History, soon to be published in a second edition by Paulist Press:

The Catholic Church through the Ages, now in its second edition, is a one-volume survey of the history of the Catholic Church from its beginning until (and including) the pontificate of Pope Francis. The book explains the Church's progress by using Christopher Dawson's division of the Church's history into six distinct "ages," or 350-400 year periods of time, each cycle beginning with great enthusiasm and advancement and ending in decline and loss. Writing with the experience of thirty years of teaching, the author has fashioned an ideal text that combines substance with readability.

Undergraduates, graduates, and interested lay people have given the author an idea of what topics should be emphasized. As a result, he has emphasized such areas monasticism, the Crusades, medieval theology, the Inquisition, Reformation, French Revolution, the nineteenth century, and the Church in the United States. And he has added material on the Oxford Movement, John Henry Newman s contributions to the Oxford Movement and to the Catholic intellectual tradition, and the Catholic literary revival that took place in several countries in the early twentieth century, as well as on the last three popes.

As a supplement to each chapter, the author has included an updated the recommended readings and bibliography, as well as the audio-visual materials.

The Six Ages of the Church are:

The Apostolic Age (1-ca. 300)
The Patristic Age (ca. 300-650)
The Carolingian Age (650-1000)
The High Middle Ages (1000-1500)
The Age of Baroque (1550-1789)
The Modern Age (1789-Present)

We discussed in class whether or not we are about to enter into a seventh age of the Church with a new cycle of revival to address our late 20th century/early 21st century crisis.

The same speaker will make another presentation on Saturday, October 11 from 9 am. to 12 noon:

Catholic Authors of the 20th Century
If you love books and Catholicism, this course is for you!

This class is geared toward literature-loving persons who appreciate a good novel while also seeking out Catholic themes. During this morning course, Ms. Arnold will introduce a number of “great” (by her own estimation) 20th century authors: J.R.R. Tolkien, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, Sigrid Undsett, Flannery O’Conner, Walker Percy, and Michael O’Brien. A brief biography of each author will be given along with a look at the ideas and synopses of their major works.

The focus of the class will be to show the moral, liturgical, spiritual, and doctrinal themes that each author focuses on, as well as trying to weave them into a larger picture of addressing the issues surrounding the 20th century from a specifically Catholic viewpoint. Time permitting we will have some “book discussion” groups, perhaps after reading a short story.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

William Oddie on Father Ian Ker's "Newman on Vatican II"

In The Catholic Herald William Oddie discusses Father Ian Ker's new book Newman and Vatican II:

Newman was not a systematic theologian; he himself insisted that he was, rather, a controversialist. In this he seems instinctively to have identified himself with the fathers of the early Church who, as he pointed out, “rather than writing formal doctrinal treatises… write controversy”. Newman wrote voluminously in response to particular occasions. Sometimes, this meant writing a book (The Idea of a University, the Apologia Pro Vita Sua) or a sermon or a series of lectures (Certain Difficulties Felt by Anglicans in Catholic Teaching); most, often perhaps, a letter, of which there are at least 20,000 extant.

Sometimes Newman’s controversial instinct, normally expressed gently, produced polemic of wonderful wit and acid brilliance, as with his defence, in the Apologia, of his own integrity and that of his Church against the contemptuous attacks of Charles Kingsley. Kingsley was generally seen at the time as having been quite crushed by Newman’s response, and in the second and subsequent editions of the Apologia Newman, magnanimous in victory, consigned his most swingeingly cutting opening chapters to an appendix. Normally, he is more gentle in his argumentation; but he responds unfailingly to the issues in which he finds himself engaged or which are brought before him: much of his thought is contained in his correspondence, on which Dr Ian Ker has drawn heavily in this new book, his brilliant, indispensable and pithily entitled (sic) Newman on Vatican II.

It is a real question. How, indeed, would this controversialist “Father of Vatican II” have responded to the manifold controversies of these post-conciliar times? Everyone, liberal or conservative, attempts to recruit Newman for their own point of view. . . .

As I've heard Father Ian Ker discuss that last point, he ascribes it to selective quotation, leaving out the context of some pithy saying of Newman so that he means the opposite of what he was saying. Anyone writing or speaking about Newman has to be very careful not to manipulate him into saying something he didn't. You must read him deeply and carefully and make sure you have not misstated his ideas.

Dr Ker argues that Newman would have understood the Council in a broadly similar way to that in which Pope Benedict explained it; thus, we can see Newman not merely as the “unseen Father of Vatican II” but also as a guardian of its aftermath. Just as Benedict XVI said, explaining his ideas on “The Hermeneutic of Change in Continuity” (one of Dr Ker’s chapter titles), that the Church “increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same”, so Newman had said, in his “Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine”, that Christianity “changes in order to remain the same”. . . .

Read the rest here.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Our Lady of Sorrows

La vierge de Douleur by Germain Pilon (1586), from St. Paul-St. Louis in Paris, the Marais. (c) 2012 Stephanie A. Mann.

I have visited St. Paul-St. Louis many times during our visits to this church in the Marais and this sculpture always makes me look twice. From Mary's position I expect to see the dead body of her Son Jesus Christ on her lap as she is seated with right knee raised--as though Pilon sculpted a Pieta and forgot something!

Pilon was a French Renaissance era sculptor and favorite artist of Catherine de Medici--he sculpted the tomb of Henri II and Catherine at St. Denis that included their praying figures above their recumbent dead bodies.

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Lift High the Cross--The Triumph of the Cross

For this Feast of the Triumph of Exaltation of the Cross, I refer you to my article published in the September/October 2013 issue of OSV's The Catholic Answer Magazine, available on-line without subscription:

Each September the Church celebrates the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on Sept. 14, and the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows follows on Sept. 15.

The pairing of these celebrations, even in their different levels on the liturgical and sanctoral calendars, properly guides us in our levels of devotion and love of our Savior and Our Lady. He is our Divine Redeemer, to be worshiped and adored; she is His first disciple and our example. Both of these celebrations have a long history and are worthy of meditation.

We have been listening to a recording of Spanish Choral religious music, O Crux, by Coro Cervantes, which features the great Velasquez Crucifixion on its cover:

19th century Spanish music? Thorough research of Spanish Romantic music has unearthed some of Spain's most beautiful and sumptuous sacred choral music, with styles ranging from the unapologetic taste for Italian opera to the strictest counterpoint which can be found since the sixteenth century Spanish Golden Age.  This multiplicity of styles is reflected in works by Arriaga, Sor, Ledesma, Monasterio, Barbieri, Eslava, Bretón, Vives, Albéniz, etc. 

The liner notes explain how the Napoleonic invasion of Spain led to the destruction of the religious choral music tradition and how that destruction continued the 1851 concordat which "reduced the size of music chapels, abolished schools for child choristers and banned anyone who was not a clergyman from performing music in chapels"!

One of the tracks is Fernando Sors' O Crux:

O Crux ave, spes unica,
hoc Passionis tempore!
piis adauge gratiam,
reisque dele criminal.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Catholic Colony Before Maryland

Jessie Childs writes on the OUPBlog about an idea to found a colony in the New World to provide religious freedom to English Catholics during the reign of Elizabeth I:

Over the summer of 1582 a group of English Catholic gentlemen met to hammer out their plans for a colony in North America — not Roanoke Island, Sir Walter Raleigh’s settlement of 1585, but Norumbega in present-day New England.

The scheme was promoted by two knights of the realm, Sir George Peckham and Sir Thomas Gerard, and it attracted several wealthy backers, including a gentleman from the midlands called Sir William Catesby. In the list of articles drafted in June 1582, Catesby agreed to be an Associate. In return for putting up £100 and ten men for the first voyage (forty for the next), he was promised a seignory of 10,000 acres and election to one of “the chief offices in government”. Special privileges would be extended to “encourage women to go on the voyage” and according to Bernardino de Mendoza, the Spanish ambassador in London, the settlers would “live in those parts with freedom of conscience.”

Religious liberty was important for these English Catholics because they didn’t have it at home. The Mass was banned, their priests were outlawed and, since 1571, even the possession of personal devotional items, like rosaries, was considered suspect. In November 1581, Catesby was fined 1,000 marks (£666) and imprisoned in the Fleet for allegedly harboring the Jesuit missionary priest, Edmund Campion, who was executed in December.

William Catesby's son Robert would lead the Gunpowder plotters in 1605:

Seven years later, in the reign of the next monarch James I (James VI of Scotland), William’s son Robert became what we would today call a terrorist. Frustrated, angry and “beside himself with mindless fanaticism,” he contrived to blow up the king and the House of Lords at the state opening of Parliament on 5 November 1605. “The nature of the disease,” he told his recruits, “required so sharp a remedy.” The plot was discovered and anti-popery became ever more entrenched in English culture. Only in 2013 was the constitution weeded of a clause that insisted that royal heirs who married Catholics were excluded from the line of succession.

Every 5 November, we British set off our fireworks and let our children foam with marshmallow, and we enjoy “bonfire night” as a bit of harmless fun, without really thinking about why the plotters sought their “sharp remedy” or, indeed, about the tragedy of the father’s failed American Dream, a dream for religious freedom that was twisted out of all recognition by the son.

Friday, September 12, 2014

An Interesting Assignment for England's Primate

Vincent Cardinal Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, is scheduled to offer the homily at a Compline service at the formerly Catholic church now Anglican Cathedral during the programme of Richard III's reinternment. He will also offer a Requiem Mass at the Holy Cross Priory in Leicester, according to The Catholic Herald:

Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster is to take part in services marking the reinterment of Richard III at Leicester’s Anglican cathedral in March next year.

The cardinal will preach at a service of compline on the day the king’s remains are received into the cathedral and will celebrate a Requiem Mass the next day at a nearby Catholic parish.

Dominican friars will also sing vespers at the cathedral in the run-up to the reinterment and Fr David Rocks OP, parish priest, will preach at a lunchtime Eucharist.

The Dominicans are filling in for the Greyfriars, in whose priory Richard III was originally buried after the Battle of Bosworth Field. That priory, of course, was destroyed after the Dissolution of the Monasteries so that Richard's remains were lost.

If Richard III had won the Battle of Bosworth Field, none of these events scheduled for next March would be taking place. None of the martyrs remembered at Holy Cross Priory would have spoken their last words at Tyburn or on Tower Hill. None of the religious changes of the Tudor dynasty would have occurred. There would be no established Church of England. I doubt very much that Cardinal Nichols will bring all that up.

As Cardinal Nichols notes, 
“The death of King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 was a decisive moment in English history. Following his death, Richard III was buried in the Franciscan Friary in Leicester, and his body lay in its grave until it was discovered in 2012. It is now fitting that his remains should be reinterred with dignity and accompanied by the prayers of the Church in Leicester Cathedral, the mediaeval parish church of Leicester. We commend all who have died to the love and mercy of Almighty God, and continue to pray for them, as we shall for Richard III and all who have lost their lives in battle.
The Anglican Cathedral has a separate website for King Richard in Leicester.

The Holy Name of Mary and Vienna

Christopher Check writes about the defeat of the Turks who were besieging Vienna on September 12, 1683:

Before dawn, Sobieski assisted at Mass in the ruined Church of the Camaldolites, offered by Blessed Marco D’Viano. Gathering his force he commended their mission and their souls to the care of the Blessed Virgin.

The descent began.

As the sun rose on the morning of 12 September, the Ottomans saw, according their own account, “a flood of black pitch flowing down the hill, smothering and incinerating everything that lay in its way.”

Taking one ridge at a time, the Christians fought their way down the hill. Little could the commanders do but exhort their forces to press ahead in the confusion. The Saxons on the left of the Holy League line were the first to engage the forward deployed Ottomans, but by ten a.m. the whole Turkish army was arrayed for counterattack. For several hours the battle traded advantage, the Holy League ever closing on the city.

By late afternoon, Sobieski’s army had reached the plain, and he was now positioned to exploit his greatest asset, the famed Winged Hussars. Drawing up these courageous cavalrymen, their feathered plumes streaming off their backs, he led them himself, lances couched in a full-tilt charge at the center of the Ottoman line. Shouting “Jezus Maria ratuj!” they charged and reformed, charged and reformed, charged and reformed. The Polish horsemen followed their intrepid king deeper and deeper into the army of Islam, smashing what remained of their resistance, setting the followers of Muhammad to flight, relieving the siege, and carrying the day.

“We came, we saw, God conquered.” Sobieski wrote to Innocent XI.

Pope Blessed Innocent XI instituted the today's feast of the Holy Name of Mary to commemorate that victory. After the Second Vatican Council the feast was suppressed, but Pope St. John Paul II restored it to the universal Roman Calendar in 2002. Check wonders if the pope was inspired by the the 9-11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington, DC (and Shanksville, PA before the plane reached its target).

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Portrait of St. Thomas More's Meg, in Miniature

In The Wall Street Journal, Barrymore Laurence Scherer (I love that name!) writes about an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on miniatures, and comments on Hans Holbein's portraits of William and Margaret Roper:

Two of the show's finest miniatures are also its earliest ones: a pair by Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/98–1543) depicting the wealthy lawyer and parliamentarian William Roper and his wife, Margaret. Holbein, celebrated for his Tudor court portraits in oils, had studied this diminutive art with England's first miniaturist, Lucas Horenbout, and during the last decade of his life produced a series of circular miniatures that set a standard for his successors.

As in Holbein's full-size portraits, these two are persuasively lifelike in their sobriety, with details that add to our understanding of each sitter's character. There is no sense that Holbein attempted to idealize Roper's heavy-lidded eyes and protruding lower lip or Margaret's long nose and gaunt features. Both portraits are inscribed with the respective sitter's age in Latin—Roper looks his 42 years, but Margaret looks rather elderly for 30 until you realize that this eldest daughter of Sir Thomas More had seen her father made Lord Chancellor of England by Henry VIII only to be persecuted and finally executed when he opposed Henry's schism with the Roman Catholic Church and repudiation of papal supremacy.

Not to mention rescuing her father's head from Tower Bridge!

Unlike most of the bust-length portraits in this show, these two include the sitters' hands. Roper clasps the edges of his fur-lined cloak with both hands, showing off his large ring while suggesting that he is about to address a jury. Margaret, wearing a magnificently embroidered English hood, holds a finely bound book with gold clasps. Her left thumb marks her place, pointedly suggesting actual reading. This is a significant gesture because—unusual for the period—More gave all his daughters the same Classical education that he gave his son. Margaret herself was noted for her learning.

She even corrected Erasmus.

Coming Next Month from Mayapple Books

“With this marvelous immigrant saga, Elena Maria Vidal reminds us why our forebears left the Old World for the New: for Faith, family, and freedom! Through three generations of an Irish clan in Canada, she invites us into their home for struggle and triumph, celebrations of joy and sorrow, music, feasting, and dancing. The Paradise Tree makes ‘the past and present mingle and become one’ for the reader’s great delight.” ~Stephanie A. Mann, author of Supremacy and Survival: How Catholics Endured the English Reformation

Elena Maria Vidal's latest historical fiction novel is about her family, her Irish ancestors who fled English persecution in Ireland and came to Canada to settle and prosper, practicing their Catholic faith and raising their families. She asked me to blurb her book and I enjoyed reading the early proof so much. The final designed cover is above, with its glorious green and the excellent symbolism of the tree and the arbor on the cover with the picture of her great-great-great grandparents, Daniel and Brigit O'Connor.

I'll be participating in her blog tour with an interview on October 11. If you enjoy family sagas, this is an excellent book for your reading enjoyment. More to come next month . . .

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

England=ISIS; Irish Catholics=Middle Eastern Christians?

In The Week Michael Brendan Dougherty writes about the choices Catholics faced in Ireland after "The Glorious Revolution":
When William of Orange defeated his father-in-law, the deposed King James II, along with his Irish Catholic allies at the Boyne in 1690, Parliament was determined that an Irish Catholic uprising never threaten their rule again, and so they passed penal laws, or "papist codes." As author Thomas Keneally put it, these codes were "aimed at keeping the native Irish powerless, poor, and stupid."
The details of these laws should still shock us. All Catholic bishops, and religious clergy (friars, etc), had to leave the country or face death. Any bishops coming from foreign countries were to be killed. All remaining Catholic priests were to sign an oath that was abominable to their conscience, or be killed. Catholic priests caught "perverting" a Protestant (i.e., receiving them into the church, or marrying them to a Catholic) were to be killed. Ordinary Catholics could not have schools, could not teach in schools, and could not be the guardian of a child. They could not travel abroad to attend schools. They could not own a horse worth more than five pounds. They could not accept substantial gifts from Protestants. Catholics could not live within five miles of incorporated towns. (This law applied to 80 percent of the island's population.)
Any decent Catholic church building was confiscated and given to the official "Church of Ireland." Catholics were to be whipped if they refused to work on Catholic holidays or visited holy sites. They could not own weapons. Upon death, Catholics were to split their lands among all their children, unless a child or a child's spouse was a Protestant, in which case the Protestant child was given the entire estate. Catholics were excluded from all professions and from voting. No tradesman was allowed to have more than two Catholic apprentices. There were standing bounties made available to "priest-hunters." The old Catholic Encyclopedia summarizes the papist codes this way: "The law presumed every Catholic to be faithless, disloyal, and untruthful, assumed him to exist only to be punished, and the ingenuity of the Legislature was exhausted in discovering new methods of repression."
Edmund Burke called the Penal Laws "a machine of wise and elaborate contrivance, as well fitted for the oppression, impoverishment and degradation of a people, and the debasement in them of human nature itself, as ever proceeded from the perverted ingenuity of man."
Dougherty notes the Penal Laws' results:
Now, these laws were not always or effectively enforced. Irish Catholics found ways to educate their children at illegal "hedge schools." The Catholic Church continued to send bishops to the isle, and some people found ways of sending their children to Spain, France, or Rome for an education. The penal laws failed to achieve their aim of de-Catholicizing Ireland. The faith survived because it thrives in persecution and because of the support of institutions beyond England's reach. But an older map of the gaeltacht, where the Irish language is still a mother tongue, doubles as a map of places where the difficulty of the terrain and the wildness of native resistance finally restrained the English cupidity for Irish land and estates.
The full results of these English policies would unfold over centuries. A century and a half after the codes were installed, Irish Catholics were concentrated on poorer lands, relied far too heavily on calorie-rich potatoes, and had no margin for failure when it came to the rent system of agriculture. When the famine came in the 19th century, over 1 million Irish died of starvation or disease. Nearly 2 million more emigrated. In some waves, about one in five emigrants died on the journey. Ireland lost one quarter of its population in just over a decade. The prefamine population of Ireland was higher in 1840 than it is even today. As Ireland's men and children were dying, Parliamentarians speculated that the crop failure was "a Visitation of Providence, an expression of divine displeasure," and entertained themselves with cartoons depicting the Irish as simians, while they dined on still-cheap Irish beef and butter.
Statements like that certainly support Tim Pat Coogan's view of England's Role in The Great Hunger:
During a Biblical seven years in the middle of the nineteenth century, Ireland experienced the worst disaster a nation could suffer. Fully a quarter of its citizens either perished from starvation or emigrated, with so many dying en route that it was said, "you can walk dry shod to America on their bodies." In this grand, sweeping narrative, Ireland''s best-known historian, Tim Pat Coogan, gives a fresh and comprehensive account of one of the darkest chapters in world history, arguing that Britain was in large part responsible for the extent of the national tragedy, and in fact engineered the food shortage in one of the earliest cases of ethnic cleansing. So strong was anti-Irish sentiment in the mainland that the English parliament referred to the famine as "God's lesson."

Drawing on recently uncovered sources, and with the sharp eye of a seasoned historian, Coogan delivers fresh insights into the famine's causes, recounts its unspeakable events, and delves into the legacy of the "famine mentality" that followed immigrants across the Atlantic to the shores of the United States and had lasting effects on the population left behind. This is a broad, magisterial history of a tragedy that shook the nineteenth century and still impacts the worldwide Irish diaspora of nearly 80 million people today.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Blessed Frederic Ozanam in Paris

September 9 is the memorial of Blessed Frederic Ozanam (in France and among members of the Society he founded, I presume). When we have visited Paris I have included sites associated with him on my itinerary.

I have not visited the crypt of St. Joseph des Carmes in Paris--I did not know about it the first time I explored the Institut Catholique de Paris, and it was closed the second time I tried (after I figured it out!). Blessed Frederic Ozanam, founder of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, is buried there. I have visited St. Etienne du Mont, famous for its surviving rood screen, two or three times, and Ozanam founded the lay charitable organization in that parish/area of Paris. Of course, the Sorbonne would be another site connected with him, since he was a professor there--and he was beatified by Pope St. John Paul II during World Youth Day in 1997 at Notre Dame Cathedral.

I first heard of Frederic Ozanam at the Newman School of Catholic Thought I attended in my sophomore year at WSU (St. Paul's Parish-Newman Center hosted the event). We were told to read Apostle in a Top Hat, which I dutifully did. Much more recently, I read about Ozanam's life and work in Romantic Catholics by Carol E. Harrison.

When Pope St. John Paul II beatified Ozanam in 1997, he praised him for his love, charity and care for the poor, which was not humanitarian philanthropy but personal self-giving as well as practical donations and help:

Frédéric Ozanam loved everyone who was deprived. From his youth, he became aware that it was not enough to speak about charity and the mission of the Church in the world: rather what was needed was an effective commitment of Christians in the service of the poor. He had the same intuition as Saint Vincent: "Let us love God, my brothers, let us love God, but let it be through the work of our hands, let it be by the sweat of our brow" (Saint Vincent de Paul, XI, 40). In order to show this concretely, at age twenty, with a group of friends, he created the Conferences of Saint Vincent de Paul which aimed at helping the very poor, in a spirit of service and sharing. These Conferences rapidly spread beyond France to all the European countries and to the world. I myself as a student before the Second World War was a member of one of them.

From then on, the love of those in extreme need, of those with no one to care for them, became the centre of Frédéric Ozanam's life and concerns. Speaking of these men and women, he writes "We must fall at their feet and say to them, like the Apostle: 'Tu es Dominus meus'. You are our masters and we are your servants; you are for us the sacred images of the God whom we do not see and, not knowing how to love him in another way, we love him through you" (To Louis Janmot).

He observed the real situation of the poor and sought to be more and more effective in helping them in their human development. He understood that charity must lead to efforts to remedy injustice. Charity and justice go together. He had the clear-sighted courage to seek a front-line social and political commitment in a troubled time in the life of his country, for no society can accept indigence as if it were a simple fatality without damaging its honour. So it is that we can see in him a precursor of the social doctrine of the Church which Pope Leo XXIII would develop some years later in the Encyclical Rerum Novarum.

Faced with all the forms of poverty which overwhelm so many men and women, charity is a prophetic sign of the commitment of the Christian in the following of Christ. I invite the laity, and in particular young people, to show courage and imagination in working to build a more fraternal society, where the less fortunate will be esteemed in all their dignity and will have the means to live in respect. With the humility and limitless confidence in Providence which characterized Frédéric Ozanam, have the boldness to share your material and spiritual possessions with those who are in difficulty!

Blessed Frédéric Ozanam, apostle of charity, exemplary spouse and father, grand figure of the Catholic laity of the nineteenth century, was a university student who played an important role in the intellectual movement of his time. A student, and then an eminent professor at Lyon and later at Paris, at the Sorbonne, he aimed above all at seeking and communicating the truth in serenity and respect for the convictions of those who did not share his own. "Learn to defend your convictions without hating your adversaries, " — he wrote — "to love those who think differently than yourselves, . . . let us complain less about our times and more about ourselves" (Letters, 9 April 1851). With the courage of a believer, denouncing all selfishness, he participated actively in the renewal of the presence and action of the Church in the society of his time. His role in starting the Lenten Conferences in this Cathedral of Notre-Dame of Paris is well-known, with the goal of permitting young people to receive an updated religious instruction regarding the great questions confronting their faith. A man of thought and action, Frédéric Ozanam remains for today's university community, professors as well as students, a model of courageous commitment, capable of making heard a free and demanding voice in the search for the truth and the defense of the dignity of every human person. May he also be for them an invitation to holiness!

Today the Church confirms the kind of Christian life which Ozanam chose, as well as the path which he undertook. She tells him: Frédéric, your path has truly been the path of holiness. More than one hundred years have passed and this is the opportune moment to rediscover that path. It is necessary that all these young people, nearly your own age, who have gathered together in such numbers here in Paris from all the countries of Europe and the world, should recognize that this path is also theirs. They must understand that, if they want to be authentic Christians, they must take the same road. May they open wider the eyes of the spirit to the needs of so many people today. May they see these needs as challenges. May Christ call them, each one by name, so that each one may say: this is my path! In the choices that they will make, your holiness, Frédéric, will be particularly confirmed. And your joy will be great. You who already see with your eyes the One who is love, be a guide for all these young people on the paths that they will choose, in following your example today!

The  prayer for his canonization:

You made Blessed Frédéric Ozanam a witness of the Gospel, 
full of wonder at the mystery of the Church.
You inspired him to alleviate poverty and injustice and endowed him with untiring generosity in the service of all who were suffering.
In family life, he revealed a most genuine love as a son, brother, husband and father.
In secular life, his ardent passion for the truth enlightened his thought, writing and teaching.
His vision for our society was a network of charity encircling the world and he instilled St Vincent de Paul’s spirit of love, boldness and humility.
His prophetic social vision appears in every aspect of his short life, 
together with the radiance of his virtues.
We thank you Lord, for those many gifts and we ask, if it is your will, the grace of a miracle through the intercession of Blessed Frédéric Ozanam.
May the Church proclaim his holiness, as a saint, a providential light for today’s world!
We make this prayer through Jesus Christ, our Lord.