Monday, October 31, 2016

Three Days and the Four Last Things

From All Hallows Eve, through All Saints Day, and then on All Souls Day, the Catholic Church is focused on the Four Last Things on these three days.

October 31, All Hallows Eve, is the vigil of All Saints Day and the reminder of Death, the first Four Last Thing. The ghosts and ghouls and phantoms of Halloween also remind us of Hell, which we fear, or should fear, even more than we fear Death.

November 1, All Hallows or All Saints, honors all the saints, known and unknown, those beatified and canonized and those who haven't been vetted and honored explicitly by the Church. That day is focused on Heaven.

November 2, All Souls Day, is focused on Judgment AND Heaven. Souls who have faced God's Judgment and are in need of purification prepare for Heaven in Purgatory. They have achieved salvation, but are not perfect or completely ready for Heaven. We pray for them and hope that others will pray for us when we are dead.

Throughout these three days, the theme is being united with God in Heaven forever after death by living and dying with Jesus. In the Early Church, particularly, the surest sign of this unity was the ultimate witness to Jesus as the Messiah and Savior, martyrdom. Since the Eighth Day Books Anniversary Sale (28 years!) last weekend, I've been reading Servais Pinckaers, OP's book The Spirituality of Martyrdom . . . to the Limits of Love, published by the Catholic University of America Press:

Originally published in French in 2000, The Spirituality of Martyrdom is a brief and accessible yet sweeping study of the spiritual significance attached to martyrdom in the early centuries of the Christian Church. Although studies of early Christian martyrdom have proliferated in recent decades, this book stands out by conveying to a wider audience the essence of this spirituality in its relevance to both theology and the life of every astute Christian today.

Pinckaers looks at the period from the New Testament through Augustine, with a concluding chapter tying in the theology of Thomas Aquinas. The volume is generally arranged chronologically, but also includes chapters on the 'Definition of Martyrdom,' 'Martyrdom as Eucharist' and 'Martyrdom and Eschatology' as well as more author-focused studies of the theologies of martyrdom of Ignatius of Antioch, Clement of Rome, Tertullian, and Augustine. An up-to-date bibliography on the topic is also provided by the translators to supplement the original citations.

This book aims to illuminate the intelligibility of the Church's veneration of martyrs in relation to its fundamental beliefs and practices, and seeks to relate this intelligibility to the broader Catholic moral tradition. The introduction by Patrick Clark highlights how this volume is specifically oriented towards the fields of moral theology and Thomistic ethics in light of the other key contributions that the late Fr. Pinckaers has made to those disciplines.

Pinckaers demonstrates that martyrdom is not merely an event: there's a spirituality that is essential to the Christian life, imitating Jesus in His Passion and Death completely. Even if we are not called to martyrdom--that's a line we often hear in modern Western culture--we are called to that imitation of and identification with Christ.

He begins his discussion with the Beatitudes from the Gospels according to St. Matthew and St. Luke. The eighth Beatitude from Matthew: "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you" and the fourth Beatitude from Luke: "Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake." Then Pinckaers demonstrates how the early Church and subsequent theologians from St. Augustine to St. Thomas Aquinas have applied those Beatitudes to martyrdom. Soul-stirring and amazing!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Newman on Christ the King

Today in the Extraordinary Form, we celebrate the Feast of the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ. While he was an Anglican, Blessed John Henry Newman preached about Jesus as King:

Yet it must be borne in mind, that even before He entered into His glory, Christ spoke and acted as a King. It must not be supposed that, even in the days of His flesh, He could forget who He was, or "behave Himself unseemly" by any weak submission to the will of the Jewish people. Even in the lowest acts of His self-abasement, still He showed His greatness. Consider His conduct when He washed St. Peter's feet, and see if it were not calculated (assuredly it was) to humble, to awe, and subdue the very person to whom He ministered. When He taught, warned, pitied, prayed for, His ignorant hearers, He never allowed them to relax their reverence or to overlook His condescension. Nay, He did not allow them to praise Him aloud, and publish His acts of grace; as if what is called popularity would be a dishonour to His holy name, and the applause of men would imply their right to censure. The world's praise is akin to contempt. Our Lord delights in the tribute of the secret heart. Such was His conduct in the days of His flesh. Does it not interpret His dealings with us after His resurrection? He who was so reserved in His communications of Himself, even when He came to minister, much more would withdraw Himself from the eyes of men when He was exalted over all things.

I have said, that even when a servant, Christ spoke with the authority of a king; and have given you some proof of it. But it may be well to dwell upon this. Observe then, the difference between His promises, stated doctrinally and generally, and His mode of addressing those who came actually before Him. While He announced God's willingness to forgive all repentant sinners, in all the fulness of loving-kindness and tender mercy, yet He did not use supplication to these persons or those, whatever their number or their rank might be. He spoke as one who knew He had great favours to confer, and had nothing to gain from those who received them. Far from urging them to accept His bounty, He showed Himself even backward to confer it, inquired into their knowledge and motives, and cautioned them against entering His service without counting the cost of it. Thus sometimes He even repelled men from Him.

For instance: When there went "great multitudes with Him ... He turned and said unto them, If any man come to Me, and hate not his father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple." These were not the words of one who courted popularity. He proceeds;—"Which of you intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? ... So likewise, whosoever he be of you, that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple." [Luke xiv. 25-33.] On the other hand, observe His conduct to the powerful men, and the learned Scribes and Pharisees. There are persons who look up to human power, and who are pleased to associate their names with the accomplished and cultivated of this world. Our blessed Lord was as inflexible towards these, as towards the crowds which followed Him. They asked for a sign; He named them "an evil and adulterous generation," who refused to profit by what they had already received [Matt. xii. 39; xxi. 23-27.]. They asked Him, whether He did not confess Himself to be One with God; but He, rather than tell such proud disputers, seemed even to abandon His own real claim, and made His former clear words ambiguous [Note 1]. Such was the King of Israel in the eyes both of the multitude and of their rulers; a "hard saying," a "rock of offence even to the disobedient," who came to Him "with their lips, while their hearts were far from Him." Continue this survey to the case of individuals, and it will still appear, that, loving and merciful as He was most abundantly, yet still He showed both His power and His grace with reserve, even to them, as well as to the fickle many, or the unbelieving Pharisees.

Read the rest there.

Image: Jesus before Pilate (Duccio)

Friday, October 28, 2016

Father Stravinskas on William Byrd

The Catholic World Report published this homily by Father Peter Stravinskas about William Byrd:

Byrd’s Catholic commitment found expression in his many motets with themes highlighting the persecution of the Chosen People in the Old Testament and their long-awaited deliverance. Who could not see (and hear) in these works an application to the plight of Catholics during the reign of Elizabeth? Interestingly, even though known to be a recusant (that is, one who refused to attend Anglican services), he continued to enjoy royal favor. Can we say that the Queen was so captivated by the beauty of his work that she was led to a good action in his regard – turning a blind eye to his practice of the Catholic Faith? Even more bizarre is the fact that the Episcopal Church in the United States honors Byrd with a feast in their liturgical calendar on November 21; just another sign of Anglican confusion, I suppose.

Byrd is also well known for his magnificent Mass compositions for three, four and five voices. You have heard some of them in this very church, and his Mass for Four Voices enhances our worship this evening. Most devotees of Byrd’s Masses, however, do not realize that they were not composed for and performed in grand cathedrals – those edifices had been purloined by the Protestants. No, those masterpieces were sung at “priest-hole” Masses – clandestine liturgies celebrated by priests under a death sentence and attended by laity whose very lives and fortunes were at stake for participating in “popish” worship.

Even in such dire straits, Byrd and the Catholic faithful wished to offer to the Triune God their very best and to be nourished themselves by those soaring melodies which brought them to contemplate heavenly realities.

Read the rest there.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Railroads, Printing Presses, and Calico Rock

My husband and I are on a brief vacation, staying in a cabin near Norfork, Arkansas; the cabin we're renting is a stone's throw from the White River. While the river is streaming, the internet isn't, so we drove to Calico Rock and ate lunch at the Printing Press Cafe & Ice Cream Parlor. The cafe has free internet--when we arrived a big group of bikers was in line to order their lunches. Service was really pretty quick and the food was delicious.

As you might surmise from the name of the cafe, it is located in a building used by the previous newspapers of Calico Rock. This was one of those towns that had been built up for the railroad and declined when the railroad stopped stopping there.

There was a historical museum next door to the cafe filled with displays about the old "Jot 'Em Down" stores, when people bought groceries on credit and the clerk jotted down their purchases; the former school houses; how the Calico Rock High School girls' basketball teams won year after year; the hunting and fishing in the area, etc. The community is trying to maintain its history. We'd highly recommend the Printing Press Cafe and Ice Cream Parlor if you're near Calico Rock, Arkansas.

Photos copyright Mark and Stephanie Mann, 2016.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Sir Geoffrey Pole, in the Tower

According to the Tudor Society Blog, on October 26 in 1538, "Geoffrey Pole, brother of Cardinal Reginald Pole and son of Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, was interrogated in his prison at the Tower of London regarding letters he and his family had received from his brother, and words which he had uttered showing his support for the Cardinal, who had denounced the King and his policies in his treatise, Pro ecclesiasticae unitatis defensione".

The History of Parliament website has more detail about Pole's time in the Tower and the link between his cardinal brother's opposition to Henry VIII's division of the Church and his family's troubles:

It was the raising of his brother to the cardinalate which preluded Pole’s and his family’s downfall. He was the first to lapse into disfavour, perhaps because of his debts. On 1 Feb. 1537 he was warned that John Gostwick, treasurer of the first fruits and tenths, ‘looks for you for the King’s money’, and when Prince Edward was christened in the following October the King refused to receive him at court. In a letter to Chancellor Audley, written from Lordington probably on 5 Apr. 1538, he voiced his distress at the humiliating prospect of visiting London on legal business after Cromwell and others had warned him not to wait upon the King: he may have spared himself, for a week later he joined his fellow justices in examining suspected thieves at Chichester. As late as 9 July he was reappointed to commissions of the peace but at the end of August he was arrested in Sussex and lodged in the Tower: according to Chapuys, he was suspected of having corresponded privately with the cardinal.9

Pole remained in prison for nearly two months, while Cromwell was hearing an improbable story that the cardinal had secretly visited England to confer with his relatives. On 26 Oct. 1538 the first of seven interrogations was conducted by Sir William Fitzwilliam I, Earl of Southampton. Although Southampton was less concerned with Pole’s views than with those of greater figures, two days later John Hussee reported to his master Viscount Lisle that Pole had hurt himself badly in an attempt at suicide, and it was perhaps soon after this, when he was rumoured to be in a frenzy, that Lord Montagu countered his wife’s fears with the reply that it did not matter what a madman said. His kinsmen had indeed but little confidence in him: the cardinal had urged him not to meddle and in the summer of 1538 Montagu had sent to his house to destroy incriminating letters. The government had shrewdly picked on the weakest of its suspects: Pole revealed enough for Montagu and the Marquess of Exeter to be arrested and for a string of confessions to be wrung from their friends and servants.10

By 12 Nov. Pole’s own interrogations were over and his mother’s about to begin. Having thrown himself on the King’s mercy, he was tried at Westminster on 4 Dec. with Sir Edward Neville, a mariner named Hugh Holland, and two priests, John Collins and George Croft. He was accused of having praised the cardinal to Montagu in 1536, of treasonably corresponding with the exile through the seaman Holland, and of declaring that he would make only a formal appearance in arms against the northern rebels. Clearly he would have fled abroad if Holland had agreed to take him, although he denied any intention of joining his brother. The messages he had sent to Reginald included a warning against the King’s plans for assassination and the bleak prediction: ‘The world in England waxeth all crooked, God’s law is turned upsodown, abbeys and churches overthrown ... and I think they will cast down parish churches and all at the last’. All the defendants were found guilty and sentenced to death. The sting of Pole’s confession had lain in the rash statements he attributed to Montagu and Exeter, condemned on the two previous days, and propagandists made play of Montagu’s conviction out of the mouth of his brother. Exeter, Montagu and Neville were beheaded on 9 Jan. 1539, when Chapuys wrote that their accuser had tried to suffocate himself and might escape with life imprisonment: he had in fact been pardoned a week earlier and by April he seems to have been back in Sussex, where his name was included on a muster certificate.11

Geoffrey Pole

died shortly before his brother in November 1558 and was buried in the church of Stoughton near Chichester, where his widow also asked to be laid in her will of 12 years later.14

Pole’s royal blood and religious dissidence continued to haunt his children. Two of his sons, Arthur and Edmund, embarked on a futile conspiracy in 1562 and disappeared as prisoners in the Tower, and the second son Thomas inherited Lordington only to die without issue, the manor passing to another brother Geoffrey, a recusant who alienated it before his death in exile.15

There is a modern translation of Reginald Cardinal Pole's open letter to Henry VIII available, with a .pdf here.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Rodney Stark's "Bearing False Witness"

Rodney Stark is not a Catholic but he wants to tell the truth about Church History for the sake of history itself: not to let it be used in the cause of deceit and hatred. In his latest book, he debunks "Centuries of Anti-Catholic History", dealing with the common topics and events that are usually cited as attacks upon the Catholic Church--some of the same topics I covered a few years ago for Homiletic & Pastoral Review. As his publisher, Templeton Press, describes the book:

As we all know and as many of our well established textbooks have argued for decades, the Inquisition was one of the most frightening and bloody chapters in Western history, Pope Pius XII was anti-Semitic and rightfully called “Hitler’s Pope,” the Dark Ages were a stunting of the progress of knowledge to be redeemed only by the secular spirit of the Enlightenment, and the religious Crusades were an early example of the rapacious Western thirst for riches and power. But what if these long held beliefs were all wrong?

In this stunning, powerful, and ultimately persuasive book, Rodney Stark, one of the most highly regarded sociologists of religion and bestselling author of
The Rise of Christianity (HarperSanFrancisco 1997) argues that some of our most firmly held ideas about history, ideas that paint the Catholic Church in the least positive light are, in fact, fiction. Why have we held these wrongheaded ideas so strongly and for so long? And if our beliefs are wrong, what, in fact, is the truth?

In each chapter, Stark takes on a well-established anti-Catholic myth, gives a fascinating history of how each myth became the conventional wisdom, and presents a startling picture of the real truth. For example,
  • Instead of the Spanish Inquisition being an anomaly of torture and murder of innocent people persecuted for “imaginary” crimes such as witchcraft and blasphemy, Stark argues that not only did the Spanish Inquisition spill very little blood, but it was a major force in support of moderation and justice.
  • Instead of Pope Pius XII being apathetic or even helpful to the Nazi movement, such as to merit the title, “Hitler’s Pope,” Stark shows that the campaign to link Pope Pius XII to Hitler was initiated by the Soviet Union, presumably in hopes of neutralizing the Vatican in post-World War II affairs. Pope Pius XII was widely praised for his vigorous and devoted efforts to saving Jewish lives during the war.
  • Instead of the Dark Ages being understood as a millennium of ignorance and backwardness inspired by the Catholic Church’s power, Stark argues that the whole notion of the “Dark Ages” was an act of pride perpetuated by anti-religious intellectuals who were determined to claim that theirs was the era of “Enlightenment.”
In the end, readers will not only have a more accurate history of the Catholic Church, they will come to understand why it became unfairly maligned for so long. Bearing False Witness is a compelling and sobering account of how egotism and ideology often work together to give us a false truth.

Much of what Stark does in this book is familiar to me; the important thing about this book is that it's written by a non-Catholic and a respected scholar. When a Catholic, even using the same evidence and sources, defends Church History, the reader can accuse him or her of special pleading--'of course you defend your Church; you're blinded by loyalty'--but with a non-Catholic standing up for the truth, perhaps someone otherwise inclined will listen. Nevertheless, if the reader is motivated by hatred against the Catholic Church for whatever reason, no rational explanation will probably influence them. Hatred and bigotry will probably blind such a reader and he or she will persist in, as Stark cites one misguided historian on the Spanish Inquisition, despising the Catholic Church. Highly recommended.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Christ the King

Next Sunday, the last Sunday of October, on the Calendar for the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite, will be the Feast of The Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  I wrote about that Feast and the celebration of the Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe in the Ordinary Form--which falls on Sunday, November 20 this year, for the National Catholic Register:

My husband and I attend Sunday Mass in both forms of the Roman Rite: the Ordinary Form in the vernacular and the Extraordinary Form in Latin. Because we have this opportunity, at least partially because of Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 Summorum Pontificum, and mostly because of the generosity of several priests, we will celebrate the feast of Christ the King twice this fall—once before Election Day and once after. Thus, no matter who is elected President, Christ will be King.

1925: Pope Pius XI

On the Extraordinary Form calendar the Feast of the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ is celebrated on the last Sunday of October. Pope Pius XI issued the encyclical “Quas Primas” on December 11, 1925 to establish the feast and provided this reason for its scheduling:
The last Sunday of October seemed the most convenient of all for this purpose, because it is at the end of the liturgical year, and thus the feast of the Kingship of Christ sets the crowning glory upon the mysteries of the life of Christ already commemorated during the year, and, before celebrating the triumph of all the Saints, we proclaim and extol the glory of him who triumphs in all the Saints and in all the Elect.
The propers of the Mass (Introit, Collect, Epistle, Gradual, Alleluia, Gospel, Offertory, Secret, Communion Verse, and Post Communion prayer) all emphasize what Pope Pius XI stated as truths about Jesus Christ’s Kingship. He reigns as the maker and enforcer of Law; His Kingdom, as he told Pilate, is not of this world: it is “spiritual and concerned with spiritual things”; nevertheless, He is King of all the nations on earth, whether their citizens are Catholic or not, baptized or not, and He reigns as the King of peace.

Please read the rest there.

Image credit. (Christ Pantocrator (“ruler over all”) from the Hagia Sophia in Instanbul)

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Pope John Paul II, The Saint and His Saints

Today is the Memorial of Pope St. John Paul II, the pope of my adulthood, whose encyclicals and books I've read, and whose life and death I've loved. He is famous for bringing down Communism in Poland, for urging us to embrace the Culture of Life, and for beatifying and canonizing many saints. Some thought he canonized too many, but in this article from 2006, Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, then the prefect of the Congregation for Sainthood Causes, gave Pope St. John Paul II's reasons for canonizing so many saints:

The first reason the Pope gave was that he, by beatifying so many Servants of God, did no more than implement the Second Vatican Council, which vigorously reaffirmed that holiness is the essential note of the Church; that the Church is holy: one, holy, catholic, apostolic. 

John Paul II also said that if the Church of Christ is not holy, it isn't the Church of Christ, the true Church of Christ, the one he desired and founded to continue his mission throughout the centuries. 

Therefore, John Paul II said, holiness is what is most important in the Church, according to the Second Vatican Council. Then no one should be surprised by the fact that the Pope wished to propose so many models of holiness to Christians, to the People of God. 

The second reason is the extraordinary ecumenical importance of holiness. 

In "Novo Millennio Ineunte," the Pope said that the holiness of the saints, blessed and martyrs is perhaps the most convincing ecumenism, these are his words, because holiness, he said with even stronger words, has its ultimate foundation in Christ, in whom the Church is not divided. 

Therefore, the ecumenism we all want calls for many saints, so that the convincing ecumenism of holiness is placed in the candelabrum of the holiness of the Church. 

The Pope's third reason was that "the saints and blessed manifest the charity of a local Church," that is, today, the Holy Father said, local Churches are far more numerous than in the last 10 centuries. 

Therefore, we shouldn't be surprised that there are also more saints, more blessed who express and manifest the holiness of these increased local Churches. 

The Vatican website has a list of all the saints he canonized and the Bunsons (Matthew and Margaret) wrote a book about those saints, published in 2007.

Friday, October 21, 2016

There's Just Something about Those Thwings

St. John of Bridlington or St. John Thwing or Thweng, is a Yorkshire saint of the fourteenth century and an ancestor of two recusant era martyrs, Blesseds Edward and Thomas Thwing, uncle and nephew. Saint John was born in 1320 near Bridlington:

John was schooled in the village from the age of five, before completing his studies at Oxford.

He then entered the Augustinian Canons Regular community of Priory of Bridlington. He carried out his duties with humility and diligence, and was in turn novice master, almsgiver, preacher and sub-prior. He became Canon of the Priory in 1346 and was eventually elected Prior in 1356. John initially declined out of humility, but after being re-elected, probably in 1361, that he took on the duties of Prior in January 1362. He served as Prior for 17 years before his death on 10 October 1379.

There's a connection between Henry V and St. John:

St John of Bridlington was commended for the integrity of his life, his scholarship, and his quiet generosity. He was the last English saint to be canonised before the English Reformation. King Henry V attributed his victory at Agincourt to the intercession in heaven of this Saint John and of Saint John of Beverley. Women in difficult labour may pray to St John of Bridlington as their patron saint and he is also associated with the local fishing industry.

Of course Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries led to the destruction of his shrine:

At the English Reformation Henry VIII was asked to spare the magnificent shrine of the saint, but in vain; it was destroyed in 1537. The nave of the church, restored in 1857, is all that now remains of Bridlington Priory

In fact, the last Prior might also be considered a saint as  martyr, for he stood up against the Dissolution of the Monasteries and participated in the Pilgrimage of Grace, according to BHO:

The last prior, William Wood, took part in the Pilgrimage of Grace, was attainted of high treason on 17 January 1537,(fn. 47) and with the Abbots of Fountains and Jervaulx, the ex Abbot of Rievaulx and the ex-Prior of Guisborough, was put to death, the property of the house being then treated as forfeited to the Crown. (fn. 48)

A letter is extant from Prior Wood to Thomas Cromwell, (fn. 49) the exact date of which is uncertain, in reply to one advising the prior to recognize Henry VIII as patron and founder, or to appear before one of the king's councillors. Prior Wood pleaded that he was 'deteyned with divers infirmities' of body 'and in lyke manner am feble of nature, so that without great jeopardie of my lyffe, I cannot, nor am not hable to labor in doing of my deuty to appere before your mastershipp,' &c. The prior therefore sent his brother to represent him.

Another letter, printed more than once elsewhere, is from Richard Bellasys, one of the commissioners for the suppression of monasteries, (fn. 50) to Cromwell, and bears date 14 November 1538. After relating how he had treated Jervaulx Abbey, the writer goes on to say, 'As for Byrdlington I have doyn nothing there as yet, but spayrethe itt to March next, bycause the days now are so short, and from such tyme as I begyn I trust shortly to dyspatche it after such fashion that when all is fynished, I trust your Lordshipp shall think that I have bene no evyll howsbound in all such things as your Lordshipp haith appoynted me to doo.'

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Symphonic Tragedy of the Nine Days Queen

I just happened to hear this symphony, composed by Arnold Rosner. According to the late composer's website:

In 1981 during dinner with a bridge partner, the discussion turned to theater. A full-time lawyer and part-time producer, he told me of the play The Chronicle of Nine, by one Florence Stevenson, concerning the life of Lady Jane Grey and her nine-day rule of England. Wine having been poured liberally that evening, I blurted out “that would make a nice opera,” and I actually followed this instinct despite no hope at all that point for a production.

Of course, the tradition of a suite or symphony taken from an opera is venerable. It was easy to compile such a piece, although it does somewhat alter the dramatic sequence. The first movement is the Act I prelude, and contrasts eerie string harmonies with angry, perhaps frightening, brass interpolations. The second movement appears in the opera as wedding music in Act I, and is something of a mini-suite in itself. The third movement is a la battaglia and corresponds to the prelude to Act III. If the ending (as in Strauss’s Don Juan) seems unexpectedly subdued, the skirmish described ends very badly for Queen Jane’s forces. The finale is actually the Act II prelude of the opera, where it serves as the preceding king’s funeral music. In this setting, however, it may be thought of as a dirge for Jane or the symbol of the English crown in general.

The Chronicle of Nine is based on a historical drama of the same name, written by Florence Stevenson, based on the life and nine-day reign of Lady Jane Grey as Queen of England in 1553.

The three acts begin with orchestral preludes, followed by introductory ballads sung by a minstrel. The first of these welcomes the audience and prepares them for a sad story. The action of Act I centers around Jane’s arranged wedding with Guildford Dudley. When her parents inform her of this plan she sings an aria of lament, to the passion text in the St. Luke gospel. A large-scale wedding ballet is followed by a discussion between Lord Dudley and John.

Act II concerns Jane’s coronation. The minstrel sings of her attendant crown and jewels.

Early in Act III, Jane, now deposed, is in prison, as is her husband, but he is allowed to visit her. Although married, they have not consummated their relationship and the scene, tentatively at first, is something of a love duet. At the end Jane sings of her hope that she is now pregnant with a son, and muses on Queen Mary’s kindness, while Guildford sings tenderly of the kindness of “this queen”. Act III culminates in Jane’s execution and the Minstrel’s ballad concerns the failure of the duke of Northumberland’s forces to achieve a military victory for Jane’s cause, and goes on to describe a bright sunlit Monday as the approaching day of the beheading. Scene 2 describes Mary’s visit to Jane’s cell. Jane’s father and uncles, under the leadership of one Wyatt have again attempted to proclaim Jane as ruler; their rebellion has failed. To protect the crown from further jeopardy, Mary contends that she cannot sign Jane’s pardon and the execution will proceed. She sings of her need to find Jane guilty of plots against her, and goes on as to the cruel deeds she now must perform. Mary will send her priest to say prayers for Jane, who answers that Mary has more need for these prayers than does she. The final scene begins with a version of the Cries of London and leads to Jane’s farewell and execution. (Notes by Arnold Rosner)

Here's a sample of the symphony.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

St. Philip Howard and the North American Jesuit Martyrs

Just a reminder that today is the anniversary of St. Philip Howard's death in the Tower of London in 1595. From my blog post at the National Catholic Register website:

Suffering in the Tower, he dedicated his hours to prayer, spiritual reading and devotions, and fasting. He carved the motto for his life into the wall of his cell: “Quanto plus afflictionis pro Christo in saeculo, tanto plus gloriae cum Christo in futuro.” (“The more affliction we endure for Christ in this world, the more glory we shall obtain with Christ in the next.”)

In the meantime, another Jesuit, Father Robert Southwell, was using Arundell House as his base of operations in West Sussex, serving as Anne Howard’s chaplain. Southwell wrote An Epistle of Comfort for Howard’s consolation. In 1592, he was arrested and after horrendous torture, imprisoned in the Tower of London. Howard’s dog was their messenger for a time before Southwell’s execution on February 21, 1595.

Howard had been condemned to death at his second trial in Westminster Hall, accused of praying for the success of the Spanish Armada in 1588. Incarceration and the stress of never knowing when the death sentence would be carried out were affecting his health and in August, 1595, he became violently ill of dysentery—poison was even suspected.

“But One Life to Lose”

Howard sent a message to Elizabeth I, begging to see his wife, his daughter, and the son born after his imprisonment. She replied that he could and would be freed and all his estates and honors restored, if only he would renounce his faith and attend a Church of England service. He responded that he could not accept such terms: “If that be the cause for which I am to perish, sorry am I that I have but one life to lose.”

This sixteenth century Nathan Hale died of dysentery on Sunday, October 19, 1595 at noon. He was 38. Buried in the Tower’s other chapel, St. Peter ad Vincula with his father, his widow survived him long enough to have his body disinterred and buried in the FitzAlan Chapel in Arundel.

I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show this morning to talk about this great martyr.

Today is also the memorial of the North American Martyrs, Jesuits who suffered horrendous tortures and martyrdoms on various dates from 1642 to 1649. They are: St. René Goupil (1642), St. Isaac Jogues (1646), St. Jean de Lalande (1646), St. Antoine Daniel (1648), St.Jean de Brébeuf (1649), St. Noël Chabanel (1649), St. Charles Garnier (1649), and St. Gabriel Lalemant (1649).

In Willa Cather's novel set in seventeenth century Quebec, Shadows on the Rock, a priest explains why one of those martyrs has inspired him so greatly:

"There was among the early missionaries, among the martyrs, one whom I have selected for my especial reverence. I mean Noël Chabanel, Euclide. He was not so great a figure as Brébeuf or Jogues or Lalemant, but I feel a peculiar sympathy for him. He perished, you remember, in the great Iroquois raid of '49. But his martyrdom was his life, not his death.

"He was a little different from all the others,--equal to them in desire, but not in fitness. He was only thirty years of age when he came, and was from Toulouse, that gracious city.

"Chabanel had been a professor of rhetoric like me, and like me he was fond of the decencies, the elegancies of life. From the beginning his life in Canada was one long humiliation and disappointment. Strange to say, he was utterly unable to learn the Huron language, though he was a master of Greek and Hebrew and spoke both Italian and Spanish. After five years of devoted study he was still unable to converse or to preach in any Indian tongue. He was sent out to the mission of Saint Jean in the Tobacco nation, as helper to Father Charles Gamier. Father Gamier, though not at all Chabanel's equal in scholarship, had learned the Huron language so thoroughly that the Indians said there was nothing more to teach him,--he spoke like one of themselves.

"His humiliating inability to learn the language was only one of poor Chabanel's mortifications. He had no love for his converts. Everything about the savages and their mode of life was utterly repulsive and horrible to him; their filth, their indecency, their cruelty. The very smell of their bodies revolted him to nausea. He could never feel toward them that long-suffering love which has been the consolation of our missionaries. He never became hardened to any of the privations of his life, not even to the vermin and mosquitos that preyed upon his body, nor to the smoke and smells in the savage wigwams. In his struggle to learn the language he went and lived with the Indians, sleeping in their bark shelters, crowded with dogs and dirty savages. Often Father Chabanel would lie out in the snow until he was in danger of a death self-inflicted, and only then creep inside the wigwam. The food was so hateful to him that one might say he lived upon fasting. The flesh of dogs he could never eat without becoming ill, and even corn-meal boiled in dirty water and dirty kettles brought on vomiting; so that he used to beg the women to give him a little uncooked meal in his hand, and upon that he subsisted.

"The Huron converts were more brutal to him than to Father Gamier. They were contemptuous of his backwardness in their language, and they must have divined his excessive sensibility, for they took every occasion to outrage it. In the wigwam they tirelessly perpetrated indecencies to wound him. Once when a hunting party returned after a long famine, they invited him to a feast of flesh. After he had swallowed the portion in his bowl, they pulled a human hand out of the kettle to show him that he had eaten of an Iroquois prisoner. He became ill at once, and they followed him into the forest to make merry over his retchings.

"But through all these physical sufferings, which remained as sharp as on the first day, the greatest of his sufferings was an almost continual sense of the withdrawal of God. All missionaries have that anguish at times, but with Chabanel it was continual. For long months, for a whole winter, he would exist in the forest, every human sense outraged, and with no assurance of the nearness of God. In those seasons of despair he was constantly beset by temptation in the form of homesickness. He longed to leave the mission to priests who were better suited to its hardships, to return to France and teach the young, and to find again that peace of soul, that cleanliness and order, which made him the master of his mind and its powers. Everything that he had lost was awaiting him in France, and the Director of Missions in Quebec had suggested his return.

"On Corpus Christi Day, in the fifth year of his labours in Canada and the thirty-fifth of his age, he cut short this struggle and overcame his temptation. At the mission of Saint Matthias, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed, he made a vow of perpetual stability (perpetuam stabilitatem) in the Huron missions. This vow he recorded in writing, and he sent copies of it to his brethren in Kebec.

"Having made up his mind to die in the wilderness, he had not long to wait. Two years later he perished when the mission of Saint Jean was destroyed by the Iroquois,--though whether he died of cold in his flight through the forest, or was murdered by a faithless convert for the sake of the poor belongings he carried on his back, was not surely known. No man ever gave up more for Christ than Noël Chabanel; many gave all, but few had so much to give.

"It was perhaps in memory of his sufferings that I, in my turn, made a vow of perpetual stability. For those of us who are unsteadfast by nature, who have other lawful loves than our devotion to our converts, it is perhaps the safest way. My sacrifice is poor compared with his. I was able to learn the Indian languages; I have a house where I can, at least, pray in solitude; I can keep clean, and am seldom hungry, except by accident in the journeys I have to make. But Noël Chabanel--ah, when your faith is cold, think of him! How can there be men in France this day who doubt the existence of God, when for the love of Him weak human beings have been able to endure so much?"

How, indeed, can there be men and women anywhere who doubt the existence of God when men and women have been willing and able to endure so much?

St. Philip Howard, pray for us.
St. Edmund Campion, pray for us.
St. Henry Walpole, pray for us.
St. Robert Southwell, pray for us.
St. René Goupil, pray for us.
St. Isaac Jogues, pray for us.
St. Jean de Lalande, pray for us.
St. Antoine Daniel, pray for us.
St.Jean de Brébeuf, pray for us.
St. Noël Chabanel, pray for us.
St. Charles Garnier, pray for us.
St. Gabriel Lalemant, pray for us.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Second Spring and the "Catholic Spring"

From Crisis Magazine and the inimitable Father George Rutler, this comparison between a great, holy Newman and 21st-century Newman:

On a Tuesday in 1852, the thirteenth of July for the literary record since it was a day important for English letters, Blessed John Henry Newman mounted the pulpit of Oscott College, its halls relatively new though designed by Joseph Potter and Augustus Pugin to recall the best of the Tudor times before the depredations of the eighth Henry. Always attentive to signs of decay, at 51 he claimed to be entering old age but was ready for a second breath, both for himself and his Church. That sermon, “The Second Spring,” is as poetic as homiletic, and could take its place in the annals of free verse as one of its most lyrical samples.

The occasion was the gathering of the First Provincial Synod of Westminster, when the Catholic episcopate had been restored, and hope was mingled with a quality of caution, for the road ahead was not straight and smooth and there were no sureties of rest along the way. That is why Newman took the temperature of the times:

Have we any right to take it strange, if, in this English land, the spring-time of the Church should turn out to be an English spring, an uncertain, anxious time of hope and fear, of joy and suffering,—of bright promise and budding hopes, yet withal, of keen blasts, and cold showers, and sudden storms?

The same might be preached today, in this peculiar period when the Church seems as conflicted as our nation, for the issues at hand have never been greater and the commentaries on them both in Church and State are almost burlesque in their shallowness and venality. Napoleon called China a sleeping giant and various sources have said the same of the Catholic Church. During the present election season, fevered as it is with unprecedented bitterness and banality, the Church could almost pass as a giant more comatose than slumbering.

If anything has stirred the Church, rusty when urban and flaccid when suburban, it has been the discovery of documents revealing cynical attempts by political strategist to subvert and suborn the institution, stripping her of supernatural credentials to become a tool of the State, like the Gallican Church of the French Revolution. Leaked emails from February 10-11, 2012 record exchanges entitled “Opening for a Catholic Spring?” between the current manager of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, John Podesta, and Sandy Newman, president of a political action group called Voices for Progress. Sandy Newman is certainly no heir to John Henry Newman nor are his visions of Spring like those of the Second Spring preached at Oscott. For Sandy Newman, “There needs to be a Catholic Spring in which Catholics themselves demand the end of a middle ages dictatorship and the beginning of a little democracy and respect for gender equality in the Catholic church.” The mandate for contraception coverage in medical plans might be a rallying point to “plant the seeds of the revolution.”

How Victorian! Accusing the Catholic Church of being medieval! 

Gentlemen, the Catholic Church is ancient; we are one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. Podesta and this Newman may think they are sophisticated and brilliant strategists, planning the infiltration of the Catholic Church, but they should look up Julian the Apostate, Napoleon Bonaparte, and a few others along the long history of the Church and see how well they fared in their attempts.

As Father Rutler concludes:

So there we are at this crossroads of culture and, more than that, of civilization itself. Two Newmans proffer two Springtimes and they are not occasional variations of a common climate. Our nation has endured recent years of eroding faith and moral reason. It cannot endure several years more in the confidence that the erosion can be reversed as though it were just the habit of a cyclical season. There is a better prospect, but it is possible only if Catholics assent to the lively oracles of the Gospel and cast their votes and vows against those who are against it. The Newman who is blessed saw a Catholic Spring in the pulpit at Oscott that is not the clandestine plot of e-mails:
I listen, and I hear the sound of voices, grave and musical, renewing the old chant, with which Augustine greeted Ethelbert in the free air upon the Kentish strand. It comes from a long procession, and it winds along the cloisters. Priests and Religious, theologians from the schools, and canons from the Cathedral, walk in due precedence. And then there comes a vision of well-nigh twelve mitred heads; and last I see a Prince of the Church, in the royal dye of empire and of martyrdom, a pledge to us from Rome of Rome’s unwearied love, a token that that goodly company is firm in Apostolic faith and hope.
The photograph above is of the shrine Father Rutler installed in his former parish in New York, the Church of the Saviour. I certainly hope it is still there (the succeeding pastor made some changes). I took this picture in 2011 and so it is (c) Stephanie A. Mann.

Tomorrow, On the Son Rise Morning Show

Anna Mitchell and I will discuss the martyrdom in chains of St. Philip Howard tomorrow morning on the Son Rise Morning Show a little after 7:45 a.m. Eastern/6:45 a.m. Central. Please listen live or find the podcast in due time here.

It's so appropriate that we call St. Philip a martyr in chains, meaning that he died in prison, held there for his Catholic faith, because he was part of a chain--a link in a chain of martyrs. It was because of the example of St. Edmund Campion, the great Jesuit martyr that St. Philip became a Catholic; it was through the solace of St. Robert Southwell, the great Jesuit poet and martyr, that he was able to endure his imprisonment, as I explain in this post on my blog at the National Catholic Register:

The story of St. Philip Howard’s sanctification and martyrdom is inextricably linked with the mission and death of two Jesuit martyrs of the English Reformation era: St. Edmund Campion and St. Robert Southwell. . . .

Philip Howard, Edmund Campion, and Robert Southwell were all canonized together in 1970 by Pope Paul VI among the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. After enduring affliction in this life, they are experiencing glory with Christ in Heaven.

Read the rest there, please.

St. Philip Howard, pray for us.
St. Edmund Campion, pray for us.
St. Henry Walpole, pray for us.
St. Robert Southwell, pray for us.

Monday, October 17, 2016

A Review of "Reformations"

For First Things, Eamon Duffy reviews a new survey of the history of the Reformations of "The Early Modern World, 1450-1650" by Carlos M.N. Eire (Yale University):

Eire is one of America’s most distinguished historians of early modern religion, and his absorption of the newer historiography is proclaimed in the fact that his book is entitled Reformations, in the plural. His book “accepts the concept of multiple Reformations wholeheartedly,” and seeks to deepen the concept by paying equal attention “to all the different movements and churches that emerged in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, stressing their interrelatedness.” The ambition to present a synoptic account of the multiple sixteenth-century movements for religious “reform,” Catholic and Protestant, has led some historians to search for a single interpretative framework for the reform impulse, to suggest that fundamental similarities underlay sixteenth-century religious reform wherever it occurred. So, the French Catholic historian Jean Delumeau proposed that we should understand both the emergence of Protestantism and the transformation of Catholicism after Trent as twin aspects of a process of “Christianization.” On this account, both Catholic and Protestant reformers labored to replace the inherited half-pagan folk religion of late medieval Europe with something more authentically Christian, focused on the person of Christ rather than often legendary saints, prioritizing orthodox catechesis and preaching over quasi-magical ritual, and imposing religious and moral discipline on a reluctant populace.

Rejecting the negative judgments implicit in Delumeau’s notion of “Christianization,” the English historian John Bossy, himself by upbringing and education a Catholic, offered a rather less benign overarching analysis of the Catholic and Protestant reformations of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The central contention of Bossy’s short but scintillating Christianity in the West was that medieval Christianity had been fundamentally concerned with the creation and maintenance of peace in a violent world. “Christianity” in medieval Europe denoted neither an ideology nor an institution, but a community of believers whose religious ideal—constantly aspired to if seldom attained—was peace and mutual love. The sacraments and sacramentals of the medieval Church were not half-pagan magic, but instruments of the “social miracle,” rituals designed to defuse hostility and create extended networks of fraternity, spiritual “kith and kin,” by reconciling enemies and consolidating the community in charity.

Duffy notes that Eire takes a different view; please read the rest there.  

Note the significance of the dates: as Yale UP says: "from Gutenberg’s printing press and the subsequent revolution in the spread of ideas to the close of the Thirty Years’ War. "

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Virtual Iconoclasm

Next year, Christians will be observing the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. There is a tremendous debate about how this anniversary should be marked. Protestants may celebrate it, but I don'd think a Catholic should--and ultimately an event that stands in the way of Our Savior's prayer the night before He suffered--"That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me." (John 17: 21 Douai-Rheims)--is not something to rejoice about.

But in Estonia, a museum has developed an odd way to remember one aspect of the Protestant Reformation: the destruction of images. The UK Daily Mail tells  and illustrates the story:

A new exhibit at the National Museum of Estonia which invites visitors to desecrate an image of the Virgin Mary has sparked outrage in some quarters of the Christian community.

The virtual image is projected on a screen in a glass case - and remains intact until a 'smash' zone is kicked at the base of the installation.

This causes the sacred statue to shatter and is replaced by the word, 'Reformation' - after which the exhibit resets itself.

It is intended to celebrate the Protestant Reformation in the historically Lutheran nation.

I have not seen a Catholic response (Catholics are in the minority in Estonia), but not even the Lutherans like it:

Urmas Viilma, the Archbishop of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church, said it insults the feelings of believers.

'I very seriously doubt that this exhibit is suitable for the permanent collection of the National Museum of Estonia, even if it is interesting from a technical point of view or from the perspective of modern approach to the depiction of historical events,' he wrote on Facebook.

He further noted that for a 'huge number of believers,' the Virgin Mary is 'not some historical figure or event, gone into oblivion, but a reality today.'

From the Raccolta, an Act of Reparation to the Blessed Virgin Mary:

Most glorious Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, turn thine eyes in pity upon us, miserable sinners; we are sore afflicted by the many evils that surround us in this life, but especially do we feel our hearts break within us upon hearing the dreadful insults and blasphemies uttered against thee, O Virgin Immaculate. O how these impious sayings offend the infinite Majesty of God and of His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ! How they provoke His indignation and give us cause to fear the terrible effects of His vengeance! Would that the sacrifice of our lives might avail to put an end to such outrages and blasphemies; were it so, how gladly we should make it, for we desire, O most holy Mother, to love thee and to honor thee with all our hearts, since this is the will of God. And just because we love thee, we will do all that is in our power to make thee honored and loved by all men. In the meantime do thou, our merciful Mother, the supreme comforter of the afflicted, accept this our act of reparation which we offer thee for ourselves and for all our families, as well as for all who impiously blaspheme thee, not knowing what they say. Do thou obtain for them from Almighty God the grace of conversion, and thus render more manifest and more glorious thy kindness, thy power and thy great mercy. May they join with us in proclaiming thee blessed among women, the Immaculate Virgin and most compassionate Mother of God.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

St. Richard Gwyn, Welsh Schoolmaster and Martyr

Today, in Wales, The Latin Mass Society is honoring St. Richard Gwyn with a Missa Cantata and veneration of relics.

In 2011, The Catholic Herald featured St. Richard Gwyn as the Saint of the Week on its website. He put up quite a fight against the Elizabethan authorities who tried to force him to worship as the state dictated:

Richard Gwyn (1537-1584) was a victim of Queen Elizabeth I’s persecution of Catholics, conducted with increasing intensity after 1581.

Born in Llanidloes in central Wales, Gwyn matriculated at Oxford before removing swiftly to Cambridge where, at St John’s, he lived by the charity of Dr Bullock, the college’s Catholic Master.

After the death of Queen Mary in 1558, however, Bullock refused to take the oath of supremacy administered by Elizabeth’s government and was ejected from the Mastership.

Gwyn fled to the continent, spending some time at Douai. Around 1562 he returned to Wales and for the next 16 years worked as a schoolmaster, mainly in Wrexham and Overton. He was much loved, not merely for his excellence and dedication as a teacher, but also for “other good partes known to be in him”. . . .

When his persecutors laid him in heavy shackles before the pulpit of a Protestant church in Wrexham Gwyn “so stirred his legs that with the noise of his irons the preacher’s voice could not be heard”.

Placed in the stocks as a punishment, he was taunted by an Anglican priest who claimed to possess the keys of the Church as surely as St Peter did. “There is this difference,” Gwyn riposted, “namely that, whereas Peter received the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, the keys you received were obviously those of the beer cellar.”

Indicted for high treason, Gwyn was eventually condemned to be hanged, drawn and quartered at the Beast Market in Wrexham in October 1584. “I have been a jesting fellow,” he told the crowd from the scaffold, “and if I have offended any that way, or by my songs, I beseech them for God’s sake to forgive me.”

The execution was hideously bungled, so that Gwyn remained conscious throughout his disembowelment. His last words, in Welsh, were: “Iesu, have mercy on me.”

It is clear that he did nothing to oppose the reign of Elizabeth I but practice his Catholic faith. For that he was harassed, mistreated, tortured, and brutally executed. As a beloved teacher, his Catholicism made him liable for accusations of trying to bring pupils or families to the Catholic faith. Wikipedia has these details about his trial:

Richard Gwyn, John Hughes and Robert Morris were indicted for high treason in 1583 and were brought to trial before a panel headed by the Chief Justice of Chester, Sir George Bromley. Witnesses gave evidence that they retained their allegiance to the Catholic Church, including that Gwyn composed "certain rhymes of his own making against married priests and ministers" and "[T]hat he had heard him complain of this world; and secondly, that it would not last long, thirdly, that he hoped to see a better world [this was construed as plotting a revolution]; and, fourthly, that he confessed the Pope's supremacy." The three were also accused of trying to make converts.

Despite their defences and objections to the dubious practices of the court Gwyn and Hughes were found guilty. At the sentencing Hughes was reprieved and Gwyn condemned to death by hanging, drawning and quartering.

His relics are venerated and he is remembered at Cathedral Church of Our Lady of Sorrows in Wrexham, which will celebrate his feast tomorrow with Mass at 3:00 p.m., with two schools in Wales named for him. Mary's Dowry has produced a documentary of his life and death. While he was executed on October 15, his memorial is observed in Wales on October 17, since St. Teresa of Avila's memorial is on October 15.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Cold War Relics: LPs from the DDR and the USSR

Two new used LPs purchased this week, both relics of the Cold War, when Germany was divided and Russia was the USSR:

E. Power Biggs in the Thomaskirche of Leipzig! This was recorded in the 1970's when Leipzig was in Communist East Germany (the DDR). This is a deluxe gatefold album with a panorama of Leipzig from the time Johann Sebastian Bach was cantor on the inside with E. Power Biggs' impressions of playing these great works in "Bach's church". The back cover provides the analysis of the works themselves, the great Toccata and Fugue D minor BWV 565 familiar from Disney's Fantasia; the Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 582, the Prelude and Fugue in G Major (the Great), BMV 541, and the Prelude and Fugue in C Major (9/8), BWV 547. This is a magnificent recording, with tremendous acoustics and extraordinary performances of such great works.

The second LP was recorded in the Moscow Conservatory by Melodiya for Angel EMI. The biography for the pianist mentions his close ties to the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra. His current biography notes that he had some difficulties with the Soviet authorities and was not allowed to perform for awhile; Gorbachev allowed him to remain in the West after 1984. He took a break from performing again in 1994 to study philosophy and religion until 2001. He had won the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1974, performing Tchaikovsky's first piano concerto just as Van Cliburn did in 1958. The tracklist for this LP:

A1 Prelude In B Flat, Op. 23, No. 2 (2:49)
A2 Prelude In F Sharp Minor, Op. 23, No. 1 (4:38)
A3 Étude-Tableau In F Sharp Minor, Op. 39, No. 3 (2:17)
A4 Prelude In E Flat, Op. 23, No. 6 (3:05)
A5 Prelude In G Sharp Minor, Op. 32, No. 12 (2:09)
A6 Prelude In G Minor, Op. 23, No. 5 (3:45)
A7 Élégie In E Flat Minor, Op. 3, No. 1 (5:38)
B1 Moment Musical In B Minor, Op. 16, No. 3 (8:50)
B2 Moment Musical In E Minor, Op. 16, No. 4 (2:27)
B3 Moment Musical In D Flat, Op. 16, No. 5 (5:14)
B4 Moment Musical In C, Op. 16, No. 6 (3:58)
B5 Étude-Tableau In E Flat Minor, Op. 39, No. 5 (5:07)

As virtuosic as E. Power Biggs' performances are, these are even more incredible. The liner notes from Angel EMI note that Gavrilov was named the possible successor of Horowitz by the London Times: "He makes the piano speak with a fiery strength and crystalline delicacy . . ." If we heard Biggs make the organ sing Bach's fantastic music, we heard Gavrilov make the piano speak Rachmaninoff's dynamic melodies. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

William Chillingworth and Father John Fisher, SJ

William Chillingworth was born just six months before Elizabeth I died, on October 12, 1602. He would have an eventful life, including a brief conversion to Catholicism:

. . . the son of a citizen of Oxford, was born in 1602; Laud, then a Fellow of St. John’s, was his godfather. Entered at Trinity College in 1618, he graduated two years later, and, in 1628, he was elected a Fellow of his College. He took from the first an active part in the “Romish” controversy, which then agitated the University, frequently meeting in debate one John Fisher, a Jesuit, who ultimately convinced him that the only refuge from distracting religious conflict was in the bosom of the infallible Roman Catholic Church. Chillingworth went to Douay in 1630, but returned to Oxford in the following year, and, three years later, declared himself to be again a Protestant, though not yet an Anglican. It was not till after the publication of his great work, The Religion of Protestants a safe way to Salvation, that he consented to subscribe the Articles, and accept the Chancellorship of Salisbury. Chillingworth was a close friend of Lord Falkland, and with him took the side of Charles the First against the Parliament. He was taken prisoner on the fall of Arundel Castle, where he had lain ill during the siege, and was almost literally talked to death in January 1644 by Francis Cheynell, a Puritan minister, who attended his funeral, and buried his “corrupt rotten book” with him.

"John Fisher" was the alias of Father John Percy, SJ--and choosing the name of the great Bishop of Rochester and martyr, John Fisher, was a great gesture of honor and admiration for a Catholic hero--and Father Percy/Fisher was much involved in the Jesuit mission to England:

Born at Holmeside, Durham, 27 Sep., 1569; died at London, 3 Dec., 1641. Converted when only fourteen years, he went first to Reims, in 1586, then to the English College, Rome, 1589-94. Returning to Belgium, he entered the Jesuit novitiate, 2 May, 1594, and then set out for England in 1596. He was, however, arrested by the Dutch, tortured, and sent prisoner to London. He managed to escape, and became the companion of Father Gerard in several adventures. He was seized at Harrowden (November, 1605) at the time of the Gunpowder Plot, but was eventually banished at the request of the Spanish ambassador (1606). Retiring to Belgium he was for a time head of the English Jesuits, then professor of Scripture at Louvain, after which he returned again to England, and was again imprisoned and condemned to death (1610): He had already begun to write on current controversies, and when James I desired a series of disputations in 1622, Percy, who was then in a prison in London, was required to defend the Catholic side. In these disputations King James himself and Laud took a leading part. As a result of these disputations, Mary Countess of Buckingham, and Chillingworth became converts to the Church. These controversies were afterwards printed and discussed by Percy and Floyd on the Catholic side, and by Laud, Francis White, John White, Featley, and Wotton on the Protestant. Percy was eventually released in 1625 and ordered to banishment in 1635, but he was suffered to remain in London till his death.

For more information about Father John Floyd, SJ, with whom Father Fisher worked, see the Catholic Encyclopedia entry. That Chillingworth was not prosecuted for his conversion, and that Father Fisher was never executed, but in fact asked/commanded to engage in theological disputation, exiled twice, and shown mercy, demonstrates at least some of the leniency toward Catholics that we find in James I's reign. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The English Armada

Last Friday was the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, originally called Our Lady of Victory to commemorate the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the Battle of Lepanto. Christoper Check's by-now classic (I almost said "iconic") telling of the story of that great naval battle includes the insight that our popular historical consciousness knows all bout the defeat of the Spanish Armada but is ignorant of the victory of Lepanto. We could also say that while everyone knows about the defeat of the Spanish Armada, few know about the defeat of the English Armada that followed. This post redresses that problem:

In the aftermath of the Spanish Armada, Elizabeth and her advisors saw a rare opportunity to destroy the remnants of Philip’s fleet before it was rebuilt. To achieve this, the English would create chaos in Spain’s newly acquired backyard: Portugal. In 1580, Spain had invaded its smaller Iberian neighbour and drove out its briefly ruling king António, who fled to England.

Consequently there was a small but relatively significant exiled Portuguese community in England and with the defeat of the Armada, António and his followers dreamt of regaining their homeland. The English set to work raising funds and an armed force to sail to Iberia with a three-pronged series of aims. The main objective outlined by Elizabeth and her Privy Council was to destroy the Spanish fleet that was being refitted at Santander and San Sebastian, but there were also unofficial aims.

The English were to intercept the Spanish silver fleet entering from the Americas and also gain the Azores Islands, which were officially Portuguese but were occupied by Spain. If the treasure and islands could be captured, it would deprive Philip of the wealth and strategic base that funded his European campaigns. The third and most unrealistic aim was to restore António to his Portuguese throne (despite the fact that he was virtually a pretender) with an English army landing in Portugal to encourage a popular revolution.

These aims were almost on a par with the Spanish Armada itself in terms of its ambition, and it would require careful planning, coordination and execution for it to succeed. It would be commanded by the experienced soldier Sir John Norreys, who would take charge of the land forces and the legendary seafarer Sir Francis Drake – who had helped defeat the Armada and was known to the Spaniards as “El Draque” (“The Dragon”). However, the “expedition to Portugal” started to go wrong before it even left England.

This English Armada, rather like the Spanish Armada, partially defeated itself, largely because of poor discipline:

While they were impatiently waiting, the volunteers broke into the warehouses and stole food and drink. By the time the professionals finally arrived, the expedition was ready to sail, but with reduced provisions. The fleet consisted of six royal galleons, 60 English armed merchantmen, 60 Dutch flyboats and 20 pinnaces. They contained 4,000 sailors, 1,500 officers and gentlemen adventurers along with the soldiers. There were possibly over 23,000 men in the expedition as a whole and buoyed with confidence they sailed straight for Lisbon.

However, the plunder of supplies at Plymouth meant that the ships ran out of food before they even reached Portugal. So the decision was made to attack Corunna on the northern coast of Spain in order to seize provisions, even though this meant bypassing Santander where many Spanish naval vessels were being refitted.

Read the rest there--it was a tremendous failure and one of Robert Devereux's steps down in Elizabeth's favoritism because he went to fight in Portugal against her explicit command and contributed to the failure of the expedition.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Blast from the Past: Maria Chapdelaine

On his facebook page, Professor Tony Esolen recommended this book, which I had read in high school: Maria Chapdelaine by Louis Hemon and I reread it last week.

It reminds me a little of the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder: the hard work, family unity, nature all around, infusing life with its seasonal changes. Like the father in the Little House books, Maria's father keeps wanting to move on, away from civilization, further into the wilderness.

On the other hand, this is a completely different work of art: haunting, immediate, and beautiful.

Dundurn Books publishes it in a "Voyageur Classics: Books that Explore Canada" edition:

Maria Chapdelaine, the quintessential novel of the rugged life of early French-Canadian colonists, is based on the author’s experiences as a hired hand in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean area. A young woman living with her family on the Quebec frontier, Maria endures the hardships of isolation and climate. Maria must eventually choose between three suitors who represent very different ways of life: a trapper, a farmer, and a Parisian immigrant.

Powerful in its simplicity, this novel captures the essence of faith and tenacity, the key ingredients of survivance. Translated into many languages,
Maria Chapdelaine is enshrined as a classic of Canadian letters. A new introduction by Michael Gnarowski examines its relevance and provides insights into Louis Hemon’s life.

Louis Hemon was born in 1880 and raised in Paris, where he qualified for the French Colonial Service. Unwilling to accept a posting to Africa, Hemon embarked on a career as a sports writer and moved to London. He sailed for Quebec in 1911 settling initially in Montreal. He wrote Maria Chapdelaine during his time working at a farm in the Lac Saint-Jean region and died when he was struck by a train at Chapleau, Ontario in 1913.

"Powerful in its simplicity"; "the essence of faith and tenacity"--those words summarize the effect of the novel brilliantly. The Chapdelaine family is Catholic, of course, but their distance from the nearest church and the barriers of weather make their Sunday Mass attendance infrequent. Hemon describes the back-breaking work of clearing land, painting and harvesting with economy, and the women's work in the household the same.

The heroine is like the land, silent and beautiful. Her three suitors pledge themselves to doing everything they can to please her but she never tells them what will please her. They offer their lives to her and she barely answers them, deferring her choice until the end of the novel. One choice is made for her when her first suitor dies when trying to visit her for Christmas, getting lost along the way. The second choice offers the greatest temptation, but when she thinks about it, she never even considers him but only the opportunities for pleasure. The third choice is closer to home, but I won't tell you what choice she makes in the end.

When I read the book in high school, it was in the old Doubleday Image Books edition. You may go to this website and hear the novel read in French, chapter by chapter, or with a zipfile download. The story has also been filmed several times. Also, if you look at the Google map of Peribonka, where the story begins, you will see that the road leading into the little town on the banks of Lake St. John is named Route Louis Hemon and the area nearby is called the Maria-Chapdelaine Regional County Municipality.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Newman's Day: October 9, 1845

The Weekly Reflection on the website of the Birmingham Oratory is about Blessed John Henry Newman today, of course:

John Henry Newman referred to the day on which he became a Catholic, 9th October 1845, as simply, “my day”. . . .

By October 1845 the effects of grace upon his mind and heart had resolved all previous doubts and he asked Fr.Dominic Barberi to receive him into the Church Christ founded, the one true fold of the Redeemer.

Blessed John Henry Newman’s long pilgrimage exemplifies to a heroic degree both spiritual persistence and spiritual docility. He actively quested, and he also let himself be led.

It was the tenacity and sobriety of his unremitting quest for God’s truth that made him great and which underpinned the heroicity of all his other virtues.

Please pray with us that our belovèd Cardinal may soon be raised to the altars. Then he will truly belong to everyone throughout the universal Church, and his holiness and wisdom will shine forth even more brightly, for the good of all.

He did struggle with his previous prejudices against Catholic doctrine, his lack of contact of any Catholics and experience with Catholic worship, and his comfortable positions as Vicar and Fellow in Oxford. He knew all that he stood to lose and was still exploring what he stood to gain. (Loss and Gain!) Soon after his conversion on October 9, 1845, sustained by the Sacraments, he began to see what he had gained in the same way that St. Paul had, and did not repine for what he'd lost: 
Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ. (PHILIPPIANS 3:8)
Once in the "one, true fold of Christ" he was happy and never looked back.

Please check my blog on the National Catholic Register website for a reflection on how my knowledge of Blessed John Henry Newman as an academic subject has changed instead to devotion and prayer. Also today, please check Aleteia for my discussion of what Blessed John Henry Newman and St. Teresa of Calcutta have in common. I'll update this post later today when the stories are published online.

Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for us!

UPDATED: Here's the link to the National Catholic Register post; here's the link to the Aleteia post!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Celebrating Newman

Even in England, Blessed John Henry Newman's memorial must--and he is glad--yield to Sunday this year in most parish churches. The Ordinariate has a pilgrimage to Birmingham going on today, which began on Friday:

Ordinariate Year of Mercy Pilgrimage and Festival

Friday 7th October 2016
6.30pm Choral Evensong in S. Chad’s Cathedral Birmingham
S. Chad’s Queensway, B4 6EU
7.30pm Reception in the Grimshaw Room
8.15pm Talk by Dr Ian Ker: “Newman on Vatican II”

Saturday 8th October 2016
Birmingham Oratory, Hagley Road B16 8UE
(Free Parking at The Oratory, entry in Plough and Harrow Road)
9.45am Tea & Coffee on arrival in the Cloister Hall.
10.15am Confessions
11am Solemn Mass (Divine Worship) followed by Veneration of the relics of Blessed John Henry Newman
Lunch in the Upper Cloister Hall (bring your own packed lunch)
2.30pm Address on Newman by Rev Dr Stephen Morgan
Free time (opportunity to visit the Newman Shrine;
there is also regular Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament 3-5pm)
4.45pm Benediction & depart

The Oratorians in England will celebrate his feast today and tomorrow. In Oxford, they walk from the Oratory to Littlemore tonight. and tomorrow, "Bishop Robert Byrne, Cong. Orat. will celebrate the eleven o'clock Mass, at which Fr Paul Chavasse, Cong. Orat. will preach."

The London Oratory has a special event planned for Sunday evening: "a recitation of Blessed John Henry Newman’s celebrated sermon “The Second Spring” by the noted actor Michael Wade, with an introduction by Fr George Bowen. The sermon was first preached on 13th July 1852, and it captured the rebirth of the Catholic Church in England after the end of penal times."

The Birmingham Oratory of course is one of the sites of the Ordinariate pilgrimage, but at this time at least, their website is not updated with any other events.