Friday, March 30, 2018

Holy Week: Good Friday

From Stile Antico: William Cornysh's setting of "Woefully Arrayed":

Woefully arrayed
My blood, man for thee ran, it may not be nayed;
My body, blo and wan;
Woefully arrayed.

Behold me, I pray thee
with all thy whole reason
and be not hard-hearted,
and for this encheason,
sith I for thy soul sake
was slain in good season,
Beguiled and betrayed
by Judas’ false treason,
unkindly entreated,
with sharp cord sore freted,
the Jews me threated,
they mowed, they grinned,
they scorned me,
condem’d to death as thou may’st see;
Woefully arrayed.

Thus naked am I nailed.
O man, for thy sake;
I love thee, then love me,
why sleepst thou, awake,
remember my tender heartroot for thee brake;
with pains my veins constrained to crake;
thus tugged to and fro,
thus wrapped all in woe,
whereas never man was so entreated,
thus in most cruel wise
was like a lamb offer’d in sacrifice;
Woefully arrayed.

Of sharp thom I have worn
a crown on my head.
So pained, so strained, so rueful, so red,
thus bobbed, thus robbed,
thus for thy love dead;
unfeigned, not deigned,
my blood for to shed,
my feet and handes sore
the sturdy nailes bore;
what might I suffer more,
than I have done, O man, for thee?
Come when thou list, welcome to me!
Woefully arrayed.

A Clerk of Oxford posted about Woefully Arrayed several years ago.

There is another side to Good Friday, however, as this is also the day of Jesus's Triumph over sin and death: the Royal Banners go forth and the Cross is our Sole Hope:

Vexilla regis prodeunt:
Fulget crucis mysterium
Quo carne carnis conditor,
Suspensus est patibulo.

O Crux ave, spes unica,
Hoc passionis tempore
Auge piis justitiam,
Reisque dona veniam.

Te, summa Deus Trinitas,
Collaudet omnis spiritus:
Quos per crucis mysterium
Salvas, rege per saecula. Amen.

The complete version of the Vexilla Regis, set by Francisco Guerrero, the sixteenth century Spanish composer who travelled to the Holy Land. Andrew Carwood of the Cardinall's Musick described Guerroro's adventures and misfortunes in the liner notes for one of their CDs:

In 1581 he travelled to Rome and remained there for a little over a year dealing with two large collections of music which were published in 1582 and 1584, but his most extraordinary journey was to the Holy Land in 1588. The fact that he undertook this journey at all shows considerable courage and presumably a certain amount of religious devotion (Guerrero was briefly in training for the priesthood whilst a teenager in Seville). No other composer is known to have undertaken such a journey. The party travelled first to Italy and then set off from Venice on 14 August 1588. They visited Zakinthos, Jaffa, Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Damascus and returned to Venice on 9 January 1589. Guerrero remained in Venice to supervise the publication of two further collections and then sailed to Marseilles via Genoa and he was subjected to the terrifying ordeal of being attacked by pirates, not once but twice. His money was stolen and a ransom exacted. This misfortune together with the cost of funding his publications meant that, when Guerrero eventually reached Seville in the summer of 1589, he was dangerously short of funds. During Advent 1590, at the age of 62, he was forced to take back responsibility for the choristers (presumably to increase his income) but, in an interesting parallel with the beginning of his career, Guerrero found himself unable to cope with the demands of the position. On 21 August 1591 he was confined to a debtor’s prison until the Cathedral authorities at Seville took pity and paid the outstanding debt, securing the composer’s release on 2 September. By 1599 his fortunes had obviously improved (perhaps as a result of the successful publication of his travelogue in 1592) as he planned a second trip to the Holy Land which was approved by the Seville Chapter on 11 January. For some reason Guerrero delayed his departure and this proved a fatal mistake as Seville was struck by plague in the summer and Guerrero was not strong enough to withstand it.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Holy Week: The Triduum

The Triduum begins tonight with the Mass of the Lord's Supper, the Washing of the Feet, the Stripping of the Altars, the Transfer of the Eucharist to the Altar of Repose, and the Night of Watching. I'll be at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament with the Holy Week issue of Magnificat, such an indispensable companion tonight and tomorrow and through the Triduum through Easter Sunday. In addition to the Morning and Evening Prayers and the readings for the Masses and Good Friday service throughout the week, it provides a beautiful collection of devotional aids. One line in the Via Crucis prayers has resonated with me since I started using it last week:

"An instrument used to execute criminals stands at the center of all Catholic life and practice. From the moment that Jesus takes up his cross, nothing that transpires in the Church of Christ makes sense apart from his cross."

Stat crux dum volvitur orbis is the Carthusian motto: The cross stands firm while the world is turning.

In the silence of Holy Week, during the services of the Holy Triduum, it almost seems like the world stops turning as time stands still.

Pange, lingua, gloriósi
Córporis mystérium,
Sanguinísque pretiósi,
Quem in mundi prétium
Fructus ventris generósi
Rex effúdit géntium.
Nobis datus, nobis natus
Ex intácta Vírgine,
Et in mundo conversátus,
Sparso verbi sémine,
Sui moras incolátus
Miro clausit órdine.
In suprémæ nocte coenæ
Recúmbens cum frátribus
Observáta lege plene
Cibis in legálibus,
Cibum turbæ duodénæ
Se dat suis mánibus.
Verbum caro, panem verum
Verbo carnem éfficit:
Fitque sanguis Christi merum,
Et si sensus déficit,
Ad firmándum cor sincérum
Sola fides súfficit.
Venerémur cérnui:
Et antíquum documéntum
Novo cedat rítui:
Præstet fides suppleméntum
Sénsuum deféctui.
Genitóri, Genitóque
Laus et jubilátio,
Salus, honor, virtus quoque
Sit et benedíctio:
Procedénti ab utróque
Compar sit laudátio.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Belloc's Summing Up: Louis XIV and the "Drawn Battle"

Anna Mitchell and I will wrap up our discussion, which we began in October last year, of Hilaire Belloc's Characters of the Reformation this morning after 7:45 a.m. Eastern/6:45 a.m. Central on the Son Rise Morning Show.

At the end of Characters of the Reformation, Hilaire Belloc sums up Louis XIV in war and religion: the War of Spanish Succession (in which England took part during the reign of Queen Anne), French aid to the Jacobites, and the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. As Belloc had begun his book with the portrait of Henry VIII, a monarch who sought to impose his will on his countrymen, he concludes with Louis XIV, who attempted to impose his will on France, Spain, England, and the faith of his subjects:

The last piece of fighting at the very end of Louis XIV's reign turned upon the succession to the huge Spanish Empire at home and beyond the Atlantic. This had been left by will to the grandson of Louis XIV, and Louis XIV determined to maintain that grandson's claims. He succeeded in this. The Spanish Empire was governed by that younger branch of his family for a hundred years to come. In the struggle, the Spanish Netherlands, which Louis had claimed to govern, with their capital at Brussels, were taken out of the Spanish Empire and given to Austria, in whose hands they remained until the wars of the French Revolution. 

Belloc notes that Louis did what was better for Louis and France, not what would strengthen the Catholic Church in Europe:

Regarded therefore politically, Louis XIV's reign as a whole was the triumph of himself as a person, and of the French power. Though not the triumph of the Catholic cause in Europe which as we have seen was divided, at any rate his rule established the maintenance of preponderant Catholic power in Europe. But France only achieved this position at the expense to Catholic culture of continually supporting the smaller Protestant powers in Germany against the Empire. Even in the English struggle Louis XIV was lukewarm. When the issue lay between the success or failure of James II in Catholic Ireland, Louis XIV, though willing to help his cousin, only consented to do so in a very half-hearted fashion, with few men —-just enough to keep up the Catholic resistance in Ireland, but not enough to make that resistance finally successful. 

Perhaps it is appropriate that Belloc ends with Louis XIV, for he believes that Louis' revocation of the Edict of Nantes was a tactical error that led to exactly the opposite of what the king intended:

If we turn from the political side to the purely religious, we find in Louis XIV's reign the source of nearly all that has followed on the Catholic side in Western Europe from that time onward, and particularly the source of what has happened in France. 

The situation stood thus when Louis XIV had come to the throne as a boy: French Protestantism, led by many of the great nobles, backed by their wealth, and numerically strong all over the place, but especially in the south, was in a kind of hostile truce against the rest of the nation and of the Catholic monarchy which governed it. But socially things were going in favour of the old religion. As the young King increased in power, won victories beyond the frontiers and led his French civilization which morally dominated Western Europe, the greater and lesser Protestant nobles began to waver. Their religious feelings had never been so strong as their political, and indifference or conversion became commoner and commoner among them. 

It is probable that if the pressure had been allowed to go on uninterruptedly it would have ended in the disappearance of most of the Huguenot centres, and France would have been as uniform in culture as England later became upon the other side. But at a critical moment about halfway through the reign, a grave error was committed. The King thought he could hasten the process of unity and proceeded to outlaw the Calvinist religion in his dominions. Men professing Calvinism could no longer hold office or officer's rank. Every obstacle was put in the way of the practice of the Calvinist religion, even in private, and a worse feature was the quartering of troops upon recalcitrant districts, especially in the central mountains where Protestantism had a hold upon the middle and lower middle classes, and even, in some places, upon the peasantry. 

The sufferings and brutalities accompanying this policy have been exaggerated, as such things always are, but they were very great. A considerable number of the French Protestants who could afford to do so, emigrated. Those who remained behind, many of them very wealthy men holding a disproportionate number of posts in the commerce and finance of the country, were roused to a tradition of hatred against the monarchy, and of course to still stronger hatred of the traditional national religion. It was from this that, later on, the opposition to the principle of monarchy in France, and the fashionable anti-clericalism of the eighteenth century proceeded. 

This sudden decision of Louis XIV to impose unity by force is known as " The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes," because, a lifetime before, it was by an edict called the "Edict of Nantes" that the French Protestants had been given their privileges, when the great religious wars had ended in a sort of truce. 

It was with this " Revocation of the Edict of Nantes," as with so many other things in history. An apparent success proved, in the long run, not only to be a failure, but the weakening and threatened destruction of what had seemed to be the successful side. 

Belloc began this book with the notion that if England would have remained Catholic--if Henry VIII had not broken away from the universal Catholic Church--then the Protestant Reformation might have failed and would not have divided Christendom. Catholic reforms and reiterated, clarified teaching could have addressed the issues and the Church could have been stronger and even more influential. From that what might have been, Belloc then proceeded to highlight the great men and women of the English Reformation era--the best part of the book in my opinion--and then to show how French rulers like Cardinal Richelieu and Louis XIV prevented a more unified Catholic response, in the Holy Roman Empire and in Europe after the end of the Thirty Years War. 

Belloc, half French and half-English but all Catholic, thus sees how those two countries damaged and divided Christendom, and left Europe in a "Drawn Battle" which would weaken response to anti-religious philosophies and movements in later centuries:

When Louis XIV died the "Drawn Battle" appeared to have been settled once and for all on its last lines. The small but vigorous Protestant culture had been maintained, and was in possession of Great Britain, Scandinavia and a large minority of the German-speaking people; but the Catholic culture was still overwhelmingly the most numerous in Europe, and seemed secure from further molestation. 

As is nearly always the case, the thing which seemed obvious to contemporaries was, as a fact, an illusion. Catholic culture in Europe was to meet a new foe within its own body, to wit, the sceptical anti-religious movement which has marked all the last two hundred years in France and Italy. The small Protestant powers were destined to increase vastly in political strength, and still more in wealth through commerce and activity overseas. But all that was for the future. 

The death of Louis XIV may be taken to be the final term of the great see-saw struggle of the seventeenth century. The "Drawn Battle" had resulted by 1715 in the position I have described.

So neither side won but both sides lost. But we know that Christ has won the victory through His Cross and Resurrection. Unfortunately, this "Drawn Battle" of the early modern era weakened His Church's efforts to proclaim that victory and all it means for life on earth.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Belloc on William of Orange and Louis XIV of France

Anna Mitchell and I will conclude our discussion of Hilaire Belloc's Characters of the Reformation on the Son Rise Morning Show with his views of William of Orange aka William III of England and King Louis XIV of France tomorrow morning. Belloc concludes this study of the Reformation with these two kings of England and France representing the stalemate of divided Europe: Protestant and Catholic. He does not provide as much character analysis as political and historical context and background. As in the two chapters on Descartes and Pascal, Belloc compares and contrasts the two monarchs and then analyses them separately:

William of Orange is the last but one of the typical figures of the great seventeenth-century "Drawn Battle" between advancing Protestantism and Catholic resistance. There were many Williams in this family, and more than one have the tide of Orange. But when one talks of " William of Orange" without additional words, one generally means this particular William of Orange, who became, so far as the rich men of England could make him so, the King of England at the end of the seventeenth century. On the Protestant side of the battle he corresponds to — though a man of far less importance — the Catholic Louis XIV. He stands for the successful Protestant resistance which caused the battle to be a drawn one; just as Louis XIV, his contemporary, stands for the later declining, but still most powerful, Catholic tradition in the west of Europe. 

Of how far Louis XIV fills this role, and how the very fact that he does not fill it altogether but only in a mixed way is characteristic of the time, I shall describe in my next chapter. William of Orange, the antagonist of Louis, is then typical of the Protestant side of the "Drawn Battle" in every way. 

To begin with, he is typical of the way in which the great leaders, who made the survival of Protestantism possible and secured its further expansion, were not — as had been the early zealots of the Reformation — men chiefly occupied with religion. They were men chiefly occupied with political power, and to an almost equal, sometimes to a greater extent, with the great personal income to be derived from political power. They were not men chiefly marked for their enthusiasm against the Catholic creed and practice, but rather marked for their determination to establish their independence from the old unity of Europe, and men who depended for their power upon wealth.

Belloc explains how William of Orange became King of England after covering the position of the House of Orange in the Netherlands and its opposition to the rule of Philip II of Spain. William's great grandfather William the Silent had led the rebellion against Philip and had been assassinated. William III of Orange and England married the Duke of York's daughter Mary:

This Mary, William's wife, had been brought up a Protestant, as a piece of state-craft insisted upon by Charles II, her uncle, who was the reigning king during her girlhood. He hoped thus to save the dynasty by counteracting the effect of his brother's conversion. Mary's mother, Anne Hyde, the daughter of Lord Clarendon, a woman of strong character and intelligence, had been converted to Catholicism, and she had brought over her husband, James, Duke of York, Mary's father, who was the immediate heir to Charles II. By the time James became King, Anne Hyde was dead. There was no boy to inherit the kingdom after James II died. James II's second wife, Mary of Modena, was of bad health and had lost her children. It was believed she would have no more. When this Catholic king came to rule, it was over an England which was by this time Protestant as to the great majority of its inhabitants, and as to a large minority of those inhabitants violently anti-Catholic (especially in London). Yet even those who most disliked the idea of the Catholic James being king over the country, and who had intrigued against his succession, were half prepared to accept him — because they took it for granted that he would be succeeded by his Protestant daughter Mary, the Princess of Orange. Not only was she a Protestant, but she was married to the man who was regarded as one of the leaders of the Protestant cause on the Continent of Europe. 

It was in 1685 that James II had become English King. The discontent of the active Protestant minority led to rebellions in Scotland and in the South. They were easily put down. That in the South had been led by an illegitimate son of the late King, Charles II. This illegitimate son was called the Duke of Monmouth. He had no particular religion, but he took up the Protestant cause with violence, and naturally enough, as it was his best chance of getting rid of his uncle, James II, and of capturing the throne for himself. He gave it out that Charles II had married his mother. A very large number of the more intense anti- Catholics in the country believed this legend, and a still larger number were prepared to let it pass for truth so that they might have a Protestant champion immediately at hand against the reigning Catholic King. But when Monmouth's rebellion had been put down, and Monmouth himself executed, there remained, even for those who believed that Monmouth had been legitimate, no leader of the Protestant cause, no one whom they could regard as a possible substitute for James II, except his daughter Mary, and her husband, James' son-in-law, William of Orange. 

The whole thing was mixed up with the now determined policy of the rich English families to take over the government of the country, and in their own selfish interests to destroy what was left of power in the crown. There was not much left of such power. The crown had become the puppet of the wealthy landed classes in England, who assumed the government of the country unchecked, through their two great committees, the House of Commons and the House of Lords, which were composed of their own landed class. They would far rather have had a new King, who should owe his nominal title to them, than to have the legitimate King James, who had behind him the full traditions of monarchy. But to these traditions, the masses of the English people were still strongly attached, and the wealthier classes who desired to get rid of the King and to take over the Government for their own advantage, could not openly upset the principle of monarchy in the face of popular opposition. It would be their object, I repeat, to have someone called king who should replace James II, but they would take care that this new king should have no real power and should be their servant. 

When Mary of Modena successfully delivered a male who seemed healthy enough to survive and succeed, displacing the Protestant Mary from the throne, those rich English families and William worked to usurp the throne:

There followed a series of the worst plots, conspiracies, and falsehoods in English history. A perfect orgy of lying, cheating and betrayal. William of Orange sent over to England an illegitimate relative of his, who had married an English wife, giving him the special message to congratulate James on the birth of an heir, and at the same time to intrigue secretly with anyone he could get hold of for turning James out and the new-born child with him. William of Orange further began to intrigue in Holland for the support of the Dutch. He began to try to raise money from the Dutch bankers on the securities of the taxes which his backers would, if he were made king, impose on the English. While he was doing this he protested in the loudest manner his loyalty to his father-in-law, James, and continued to proclaim that loyalty until the very hour of sailing with a large expedition to invade James' Kingdom. 

James had a considerable army with which to defend his throne, but the officers were drawn from the landed classes who were conspiring against the throne and were ready to betray their King. William's force landed in Devonshire. It was made up of mercenary soldiers drawn from every country, with only a few Englishmen among them. Most of the officers were French Protestants, rebels, but the strongest thing in the force was the finely disciplined and armed Dutch (Blue) Guards of William himself.

There was no battle, because just when the issue would have been joined James was betrayed. The leader of those who betrayed him was John Churchill, later Duke of Marlborough, whose career as a soldier James himself had made. The Prince of Orange marched on London. The Dutch Guards occupied the western part of that town and appeared before the Palace. James was thrown out, and the rich men who had helped William of Orange made him their king. After long negotiations, he and his wife were declared equal partners, King and Queen side by side; so that the reign of the usurper is now officially known as that of "William and Mary." 

Politically the thing was a complete revolution, or coup d'tat: that is, an illegal, unconstitutional act of force by which a legitimate Government is supplanted. The English hereditary monarchy was disposed of, and a new, unheard of title called "Parliamentary tide" was substituted for right of birth. The legitimate King, James II, lived on in France, protected by the King of France, his cousin Louis XIV. He attempted to get back his throne with the help of the French King, both through an Irish land campaign and through a maritime one in the Channel. He failed in both enterprises, and died at the beginning of the next century, within a few months of the son-in-law who had betrayed and dethroned him, and some time after the unnatural daughter who had aided her husband to act in this manner. The claim of the legitimate Stuart line was not given up, but their Catholicism was a fatal bar to their restoration, and they died out within a century, their attempts to regain the throne all proving futile.

Thus Catholicism in England was once again suppressed and would return as a foreign faith in the nineteenth century with French and then Irish immigrants supplementing the remaining native, recusant Catholics.

On to William III's enemy, King Louis XIV:

Louis XIV, the great king of France whose reign covers the last half of the seventeenth century, is the typical figure on the Catholic side of the great "Drawn Battle." He is what we may call the "opposite number" to William of Orange, though ten times greater and more important. There was no one on the Protestant side as yet, standing out sufficiently to make a prominent figurehead for that side. Therefore William of Orange is always regarded (in the later part of his life at least, after about 1680) in that capacity. Later the typical figures opposed to Catholic France, and to the Catholic German Empire, were the kings of Prussia. In less than a lifetime after Louis XIV's death, Frederick the Great of Prussia became the champion of the increasingly powerful anti-Catholic cause in Europe. But as early as 1650-1700 it is the house of Orange, and, in the later part of the period, William III of England, who represents, as we have seen, the resistance of the Protestant minority in Christendom. 

It is very important when we are following the history of all this, not to "read history backwards"; that is, not to think of Europe as she later became, a civilization divided into two more or less equal halves, the Catholic culture and the Protestant culture, with the latter gradually advancing and the former divided against itself. In the later seventeenth century at the end of the "Drawn Battle" the Protestant culture had saved itself, but it was still very much weaker than the Catholic. It included the small populations of Scandinavia, the Dutch merchants of Holland and the majority of their dependents (for Holland had a very large Catholic minority), Great Britain, and a certain proportion — perhaps one- third — of the populations who spoke German. But the overwhelming majority of Europeans were still Catholic. The Greek Church had as yet no weight, for Russia had not yet risen to be a power affecting the affairs of Europe, and the Balkan States were under the government of the Turk. 

On this account the men who led the Protestant culture everywhere regarded themselves as being on the defensive; they were maintaining what they felt to be a very difficult and gallant resistance against greatly superior forces, and the fact that they were able to make the battle a drawn one reinforced their courage and confidence in themselves. 

 Louis XIV, by far the most powerful government on the Catholic side, was typical of the mixed state into which the religious cause had fallen. He was typical also of the way in which what had been a fairly clean-cut issue in the first lifetime of the Reformation — the issue as to whether the Catholic Church should or should not survive, whether the new heretics should also not break up civilization — had gradually settled down to something more complicated, much mixed up with local and individual interests. It had become on the Protestant side not only a question of maintaining Protestant culture, but (for the leaders) of keeping the enormous fortunes which they had suddenly made out of looting the Church during the troubles. Meanwhile, on the Catholic side, the defence of the general civilization of Christendom and of its old traditions was confused and debased by something much less ideal, to wit, the particular national and dynastic ambitions of this and that Catholic monarch. That was why the French, during the whole affair, were hostile to the Empire; why Paris and Vienna, the two centres of Catholic civilization, were hostile to each other. And that is why you so often find Rome in alliance, or half-alliance, with non-Catholic forces against the private ambitions of the Catholic Prince. 

Louis XIV's whole reign, from when he ascended the throne as a little boy to when he died as an old man in 1715, is illustrative of this. He was the head of the Catholic cause, the strongest individual power in that cause, and yet he devoted half his energy to keeping the French Church wholly subject to his Government and resisting Papal authority therein, and all his energy to reducing Catholic Austria. 

Like Cardinal Richelieu opposing the Holy Roman Empire when it might have brought Catholic unity and strength, Louis XIV put French power and hegemony about Catholic unity and culture in Europe: he wanted to be its center, not the Church.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Palm Sunday Notes

In 2012, 2013, 2016, and again this year, the Solemnity of the Annunciation has been moved from March 25 (to April 9, the Monday after Divine Mercy Sunday). Since today is Palm Sunday, Holy Week has begun.

The Catholic Church in England before the Reformation used some adaptations of the Latin or Roman Rite called the Sarum Use. These adaptations had developed at Salisbury Cathedral and took their name from the Latin for Salisbury. This blog, with delightfully illustrative typescript for its title, Modern Medievalism, describes how the full Sarum Use ritual for Palm Sunday took place at Salisbury Cathedral, but it was adapted to parishes throughout During Holy Week, these Sarum Use adaptations of the ritual demonstrated the great devotion of the English people to the Eucharist and the Passion of Our Lord. Eamon Duffy’s great work, The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400-1580 offers us many details of these rituals. The website for the now Anglican Cathedral of Salisbury notes that the Sarum Use was at its height of popularity in parish churches throughout England just before the English Reformation. During the reign of Edward VI, the Book of Common Prayer was imposed on the people and the church, so the service books were destroyed.

At the beginning of Holy Week, Palm Sunday was celebrated with a procession from the parish church. As Duffy notes, these processions were one of the most elaborate rituals of the Sarum Use, focused on the Blessed Sacrament and the incarnational celebration of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. Instead of a figure representing Jesus riding on a donkey, the Blessed Sacrament was carried in procession to the parish church. The Christians celebrating that day knew that Jesus was present in the Holy Eucharist, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity--that He was really there with them as they walked in procession with palms (willow branches) and kissed the ground before Him.

The choirs sang "Gloria, Laus et Honor" (All Glory, Laud and Honor) by Theodulph of Orleans and after the procession entered the church, the dramatic reading of the St. Matthew's Passion captured the congregation's attention. Duffy notes it was sometimes read from the Rood Loft next to the Crucifixion scene in front and above the Altar, with alternating voices of the Narrator, Jesus, and the other Speakers. The holiest week of the year had begun and the parishioners were prepared to celebrate the Holy Triduum and receive Holy Communion on Easter Sunday.

During the celebration of Palm Sunday, I always think of G.K. Chesterton's poem, "The Donkey":

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

Please see my post this morning on the National Catholic Register blogroll on the Seven Dolors or Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary:

The Seven Dolors are three mysteries from Jesus’s infancy and childhood and four from His Passion, highlighting Mary’s sorrows:

1. The Prophecy of Simon

2. The Flight into Egypt

3. The Loss of the Child Jesus for Three Days

4. Mary Meets Jesus as He Carries His Cross

5. Mary Stands at the Foot of the Cross

6. Mary Receives the Dead Body of Jesus

7. Mary Witnesses the Burial of Her Son

The first dolor corresponds to the fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary, the Presentation in the Temple; the third to the fifth Joyful Mystery, the Finding in the Temple. I remember from Catholic grade school being taught that those two Joyful Mysteries were mixed with sorrow: Mary and Joseph were joyful that Simeon and Anna rejoiced that Jesus was the Savior but Simeon’s warning that a sword would pierce Mary’s heart troubled them; Mary and Joseph were relieved and happy to find Jesus in the Temple but they were stunned by His statement that He had to be in His Father’s house, emphasizing that God was His Father, not Joseph and His home was the Temple not with them in Nazareth.

The Flight into Egypt was sorrowful for Mary—and for Joseph too—not only because of the dangers of travel and exile but because the Holy Innocents had suffered and died.

The last four Dolors focus on Mary’s sorrows during the Passion of Jesus as he carries the Cross to Golgotha and meets her, as the traditional Fourth Station of Cross denotes; as she stands the foot of the Cross as described in the Gospel of St. John; and as she receives His Body from the Cross and hastily buries it before the Sabbath. After seeing Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, the image of Mary holding Jesus’s body—inspired by the art of Caravaggio— immediately came to my mind when I prayed that mystery.

Mary and the Passion

Attentive daily Mass attendants might have noticed the alternative Collect for the Friday in the Fifth Week of Lent in their Magnificat prayer book or missalette, even if the priest did not use it:

O God, who in this season
give your Church the grace
to imitate devoutly the Blessed Virgin Mary
in contemplating the Passion of Christ,
grant, we pray, through her intercession,
that we may cling more firmly each day
to your Only Begotten Son
and come at last to the fullness of his grace.

This alternative collect in the Ordinary Form was added in the 2002 revision of the Roman Missal.

On the Roman Calendar before the 1970 revision, the Friday before Palm Sunday was the Commemoration of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Passion Week. Parishes where the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite is celebrated—and in Anglican Ordinariate parishes and communities—observe this special remembrance of what Our Lady endured in seeing her Son so cruelly tortured and executed.

Best wishes for a wonderful Holy Week to everyone!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Anne Howard and Two English Martyrs

Anne Dacre, one of three daughters born to Thomas Dacre, 4th Baron Dacre and his second wife, Elizabeth Leyburne, was born on March 21, 1557, while Mary I was Queen of England. When Baron Dacre died in 1566, his wife married Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk. Howard arranged marriages between Dacres' daughters and his sons by his first two wives, Mary FitzAlan (Philip Howard) and Margaret Audley (Thomas and William).

Anne was married to Philip Howard, who inherited his grandfather's FitaAlan title as Earl of Arundel in 1580, his father having been attainted and executed in 1572. Philip and Anne were married in 1571 when they were both about 14 years old; he graduated from St. John's at Cambridge in 1574 and went to Elizabeth I's Court a couple of years later. He neglected Anne and she converted or reverted to Catholicism in 1582/83 and was soon in trouble for recusancy, held under house arrest by Sir Thomas Shirley and bore her first child, a daughter named Elizabeth, in 1583.

She was questioned by Sir Francis Walsingham's agents on April 9, 1584 and denied that she had been converted to Catholicism by any Jesuit or other priest, affirmed that she had not attended Church of England services for two and a half years, and protested that she had never said or supported any statement against Elizabeth or her government. She was released from house arrest, but then Father William Weston received her husband Philip into the Catholic Church in September of 1584. By April of 1585, they had seen each other for the last time. As she was pregnant, Philip prepared to leave England and await her on the Continent, after she was safely delivered on their second child. Since he was captured before leaving port, Philip was imprisoned in the Tower of London and held there at Elizabeth I's pleasure.

In the meantime, Anne delivered of a son (Thomas) in 1586, while Philip languished in the Tower, finally charged with treason during the Spanish Armada crisis, and condemned to death--not knowing when the sentence would be carried out at Elizabeth's orders. He finally died in the Tower on October 19, 1595. He was buried in St. Peter ad Vincula, but Anne and Thomas were finally able to obtain his body to bury it in the FitzAlan Chapel in Arundel Castle during the reign of James I.

Also while her husband was in the Tower, Anne Howard began to help Father Robert Southwell, SJ, especially with the printing of his prose and some of his poetry. He wrote An Epistle of Comfort for Philip Howard, urging him to remain true to the Catholic faith. The Poetry Foundation website on St. Robert Southwell offers this summary of the epistle:

Southwell begins modestly and generally, pointing out that suffering is a sign that his readers are out of the devil’s power, loved by God, and imitators of Christ. Suffering, he argues, is inseparable from human life and in most cases is no more than the sufferer deserves. Then, at midpoint, he turns to the peculiar situation of the recusants, beginning with the argument that there is comfort in suffering for the Catholic faith. He then presents a series of all-too-real possibilities, starting with general persecution and ascending through imprisonment and violent death to martyrdom itself. The concluding chapters deal with the unhappiness of the lapsed, the impossibility of martyrdom for the heretic, the glory that awaits the martyr, and, lastly, a warning to the persecutors. The content and the style are much influenced by the patristic authors whom Southwell quotes so deftly; the tone is measured, unyielding, even triumphant. In Southwell’s mind, the Catholics’ suffering is a direct consequence of the Protestant heresy, and that in turn is a manifestation of the perennial evil of earthly life. To bear its effects is an honor: “Let our adversaries therefore load us with the infamous titles of traitors, and rebels,” he writes,
as the Arians did in the persecution of the Vandals, and as the Ethnics were wont to call Christians sarmentitios, and semasios, because they were tied to halfpenny stakes, and burnt with shrubs: so let them draw us upon hurdles, hang us, unbowel us alive, mangle us, boil us, and set our quarters upon their gates, to be meat for the birds of the air, as they use to handle rebels: we will answer them as the Christians of former persecutions have done. Hic est habitus victoriae nostrae, hec palmata vestis, tali curru triumphamus, merito itaque victis non placemus. Such is the manner of our victory, such our conquerous garment, in such chariots do we triumph. What marvel therefore if our vanquished enemies mislike us?
Southwell also wrote Triumphs Over Death to console Philip Howard and his family when his half-sister Margaret Howard died in 1591 and  A Short Rule of Good Life for Anne Howard printed in 1587. He would suffer imprisonment and torture, executed on February 21, 1595.

After her husband's death, Anne Howard determined not to marry again. Her financial situation improved when Elizabeth I died and James I succeeded because he restored her jointure lands, those she received as her own when she married. She went to Court and met Anne of Denmark. Anne Howard died on April 19, 1630 when she was 83 years old.

Nancy Pollard Brown, who edited and wrote about the works of St. Robert Southwell, wrote the basic biography we have of Anne Howard.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Where's Eleanor? Hollywood's English History

I was doing a little research on Eleanor of Aquitaine's annulment of her marriage King Louis VII of France, which was granted in 1152. Soon after being freed from that marriage and getting her lands back, Eleanor married Henry, the Duke of Normandy, soon to be crowned the King of England in 1154. Although she had borne only daughters for Louis, Eleanor gave Henry several sons: William, Henry, Richard, Geoffrey, and John. One note about Eleanor and Louis VII's daughters: they were not declared illegitimate, since their parents had married in good faith in spite of their degree of consanguinity. Also note that Henry and Eleanor were even more closely related than Louis and Eleanor!

As viewers of The Lion in Winter know, Eleanor and Henry endured some marital problems--she helped her sons in rebellions against Henry and he had her imprisoned. He let her out for Christmas and other holidays, but as Robert Bolt's play imagines, those were not happy reunions!

Reading further about her life after Henry died and Richard freed her, I noticed that Eleanor had governed England during Richard's absences and survived in fact into King John's reign. She had helped raise the ransom demanded by Henry IV, the Holy Roman Emperor (who had been excommunicated by Pope Celestine III for imprisoning a Crusader). She was the regent in England while Richard was imprisoned.

That brought to mind those two great Hollywood movies about England while Richard is held by the Emperor, Ivanhoe and The Adventures of Robin Hood. Where's Eleanor in those movies? In both of them, John is trying to usurp Richard's throne. The historical John did try to offer Henry IV some money, along with King Philip II of France, to keep Richard prisoner until Michaelmas (September 29) in 1194, but Henry refused that offer. Richard I was finally released on February 4, 1194. 

So once again, for the sake of a good story, Hollywood misleads us. Eleanor was in charge, not Prince John or Sir Guy of Gisbourne, in England. I'll let you know soon why I was researching Eleanor of Aquitaine and her annulment from King Louis VII.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Charles I, Art Collector and Portrait Subject

The Royal Academy of Arts in London is hosting an exhibition of King Charles I's art collection. In the National Review, Brian T. Allen reviews the exhibition, focusing on the portraits of Charles by Van Dyck:

First brought to London at age 20 by the Marquess of Buckingham, Van Dyck was a stranger in a strange land, much as Charles was a stranger in the land of power and authority. He left London after a short time and spent six transformative years in Italy. He returned in 1631, an established, revered artist. He’d finally emerged from the shadow of Rubens, who was older, immensely distinguished, and also from Antwerp. Charles was convinced that collecting art would compensate for his painfully blatant deficiencies. Together, these two outsiders, the same age, naturally simpatico, developed an avant-garde, opulent iconographic program. Their partnership changed portraiture forever.

But isn’t there a hefty dollop of irony and theatricality in these portraits? Charles was not without self-awareness. His eye for art was sharp, and he understood that image was reality. But what was Charles’s reality? While Rubens’s royal subjects gush with confident, obvious strength, Van Dyck’s depictions of Charles and his family have a touch too much languor. Both artist and king loved sumptuous color and fabric. There’s also a palpable love of dressing up. Do the subjects seem serious and tough? No. Van Dyck’s royals are slim, elongated, and vaguely unworldly, with moving draperies and clouds in the background. We feel the swoosh. Yet a monarchy on the move is also a monarchy that’s not stable.

Both men were what we would call globalist in outlook at a time when “England First” was taking a firm hold. Charles had a Roman Catholic, French wife, and what about that expensive art collection, filled with gaudy Italian pictures? Van Dyck, also Catholic, from the Spanish Netherlands and a painter of images, would have seemed odious to anyone with a Puritan state of mind. He was pan-European. Coming much later, only Sargent and Whistler among Western artists so effortlessly navigated and absorbed so many cultures.

Please read the rest there.

Father Alexander Lucie-Smith comments on the exhibition for The Catholic Herald:

Despite his Protestant allegiance, there can be no doubt that Charles’s taste in art was deeply Catholic. A Madonna and Child, once thought to be by Raphael, hung in his bedroom, perhaps evidence for an object of private devotion, and one of the stars of the show is The Supper at Emmaus by Titian. Along with these examples of explicitly Catholic iconography are paintings, such as those by Correggio and Veronese which no Protestant could ever have produced. There is not a single work by an English artist in the whole exhibition. Charles’s favourite painter, Anthony van Dyck, was a Catholic, as was Peter Paul Rubens, that other great artist patronised by the Stuarts. In fact, I doubt there is a single work by a Protestant in the whole exhibition, apart from the Cranach Adam and Eve. No wonder the Commonwealth was so eager to sell the collection off and to break it up. To them, Charles’s great collection must have seemed to have been the work of the devil. Thankfully many of them went for high prices – the Correggio made an astonishing £800, though the Veronese was knocked down for just £11 – otherwise the Parliamentarians might have burned the lot.

More about the exhibition from the Royal Academy and from the Shop.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Ides of March in Scotland, 1878

Pope Leo XIII--one of my favorite popes--was elected to the  Chair of St. Peter on February 20, 1878. One of his first acts was to restore the Catholic hierarchy of Scotland on March 15, 1878, just as Pope Pius IX had restored the Catholic hierarchy of England in 1850. As in England, so in Scotland, Vicars Apostolic had been appointed after James Beaton, Cardinal Archbishop of Glasgow, died on April 24, 1603. The first new Archbishop of Glasgow was Charles Eyre; in St. Andrews and Edinburgh, John Strain became Archbishop; the sees of Aberdeen (Bishop John MacDonald), Argyll and The Isles (Bishop Angus MacDonald), Dunkeld (Bishop George Rigg), and Galloway (Bishop John McLachlen) were also established.

Twenty years later, Pope Leo reflected on this restoration in the encyclical Caritatis studium issued on July 25, 1898 (one of 85 he wrote during his 25 year papacy!):

To Our Venerable Brethren, the Archbishops, and Bishops of Scotland.

Venerable Brethren, Health and Apostolic Blessing.

The ardent charity which renders Us solicitous of Our separated brethren, in nowise permits Us to cease Our efforts to bring back to the embrace of the Good Shepherd those whom manifold error causes to stand aloof from the one Fold of Christ. Day after day We deplore more deeply the unhappy lot of those who are deprived of the fullness of the Christian Faith. Wherefore moved by the sense of the responsibility which Our most sacred office entails, and by the spirit and grace of the most loving Saviour of men, Whom We unworthily represent, We are constantly imploring them to agree at last to restore together with Us the communion of the one and the same faith. A momentous work, and of all human works the most difficult to be accomplished; one which God's almighty power alone can effect. But for this very reason We do not lose heart, nor are We deterred from Our purpose by the magnitude of the difficulties which cannot be overcome by human power alone. "We preach Christ crucified . . . and the weakness of God is stronger than men" (1 Cor. i. 23-25). In the midst of so many errors and of so many evils with which We are afflicted or threatened, We continue to point out whence salvation should be sought,exhorting and admonishing all nations to lift up "their eyes to the mountains whence help shall come" (Ps. cxx.). For indeed that which Isaias spoke in prophecy has been fulfilled, and the Church of God stands forth so conspicuously by its Divine origin and authority that it can be distinguished by all beholders: "And in the last days the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be prepared on the top of mountains and shall be exalted above the hills" (Is. ii. 2).

2. Scotland, so dear to the Holy See, and in a special manner to Us, has its place in Our care and solicitude. We love to recall the fact that over twenty years ago the first act of Our Apostolic Ministry was performed in favour of Scotland, for on the second day of our Pontificate We gave back to the Scottish people their Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. From that day forward, with your efficient co-operation, Venerable Brethren, and that of your clergy, We have constantly sought to promote the welfare of your nation, which is naturally inclined to embrace the truth. And now that We are so far advanced in years that the end cannot be delayed much longer, We have thought it meet to address you,Venerable Brethren, and thus give your nation a further proof of Our Apostolic affection.

3. The terrible storm which swept over the Church in the sixteenth century,deprived the vast majority of the Scottish people, as well as many other peoples of Europe, of that Catholic Faith which they had gloriously held for over one thousand years. It is most pleasing to Us to revert to the great achievements of your forefathers on behalf of Catholicism, and also to allude to some of those,and they are many, to whose virtue and illustrious deeds Scotland owes so much of her renown. Surely your fellow-countrymen will not take it ill that We should again remind them of what they owe to the Catholic Church and to the Apostolic See. We speak of what you already know. As your ancient Annals relate, St. Ninian, a countryman of yours, was so inflamed with the desire of greater spiritual progress by the reading of Holy Writ, that he exclaimed: "I shall rise and go over sea and land, seeking that truth which my soul loveth. But is so much trouble needful? Was it not said to Peter: `Thou are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it?' Therefore in the faith of Peter there is nothing wanting, nothing obscure,nothing imperfect, nothing against which evil doctrines and pernicious views can prevail, after the manner of the gates of hell. And where is the faith of Peter,but in the See of Peter? Thither, thither I must repair, that going forth from my country, from my kindred, and from my father's house, I may see in the land of the Vision the will of the Lord and be protected by His Temple." (Ex Hist. Vitae S. Niniani a S. Aelredo Ab. cons.) Hence, full of reverence he hastened to Rome, and when at the Tomb of the Apostles he had imbibed in abundance Catholic truth at its very source and fountainhead, by command of the Supreme Pontiff he returned home, preached the true Roman faith to his fellow-countrymen, and founded the Church of Galloway about two hundred years before St. Augustine landed in England. This was the faith of St. Columba; this was the faith kept so religiously and preached so zealously by the monks of old,whose chief centre, Iona, was rendered famous by their eminent virtues. Need We mention Queen Margaret, a light and ornament not only of Scotland, but of the whole of Christendom, who, though she occupied the most exalted position in point of worldly dignity,sought only in her whole life things eternal and divine, and thus spread throughout the Church

the luster of her virtues? There can be no doubt she owed this her eminent sanctity to the influence and guidance of the Catholic Faith. And did not the power and constancy of the Catholic faith give to Wallace and Bruce, the two great heroes of your race, their indomitable courage in defence of their country? We say nothing of the immense number of those who achieved so much for the commonwealth, and who belong to that progeny which the Catholic Church has never ceased to bring forth. We say nothing of the advantages which your nation has derived from her influence. It is undeniable that it was through her wisdom and authority that those famous seats of learning were opened at St. Andrews, Glasgow, and Aberdeen, and that your judicial system was drawn up and adopted. Hence We can well understand why Scotland has been honoured by the title of "Special Daughter of the Holy See."

St. Ninian, pray for us!
St. Columba, pray for us!
St. Margaret of Scotland, pray for us!
St. John Ogilvie, pray for us!

Image credit: St. Ninian, ora pro nobis!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Belloc (and Chesterton) on St. Thomas Aquinas

Remember that Anna Mitchell and I will discuss Belloc's views of Descartes and Pascal this morning around 7:45 a.m. Eastern//6:45 a.m. Central on the Son Rise Morning Show. Listen live here.

In the course of his discussion of Rene Descartes, Belloc mentions that Descartes did not deal with the proof of things outside of ourselves. In doing so, Belloc cites the names of Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas:

There is no rational process by which the reality of the external universe can be discovered; all we know is that it can be confidently affirmed. Aristotle, who might be called reason itself; St. Thomas, whose whole process was that of beginning with a doubt, and examining all that there was to be said for that doubt before the denial of it and the corresponding certitude could be arrived at, both postulate this second truth. Not only am I, I, but that which is not myself is just as real as I am, and what is more, can be and is apprehended by myself. 

That is, like all true philosophy, common sense. Your plain man, who is made in the image of God and who, so long as his reason and conscience are not warped, is on the right lines, has no patience with any denial of it. The whole of human society takes it for granted and must take it for granted. The witness in a Court of Justice, the man conducting his own affairs, the simplest activities of daily life, takes for granted as absolutely certain, not only the external universe in which we live, but our own power of apprehending it.

In his 1937 book, The Crisis of [Our] Civilization, based upon his lectures at Fordham University, Belloc explains St. Thomas Aquinas' place in Church History and philosophy:

The XIIIth century was that moment in which the high Middle Ages reached their summit. It was that moment in which the Catholic culture came, in the civic sense of the word “ culture,” to maturity. It was probably the supreme moment of our blood, at any rate one of the very greatest moments. Never had we had such a well-founded society before, never have we since had any society so well founded or so much concerned with justice. A proof, if proof were needed, of the greatness of that time is the scale of the chief public characters, already named: St. Louis the King, Ferdinand of Castile, St. Dominic and St. Francis, with their new orders of friars, Edward I of England, and, in philosophy, which determines all, the towering name of St. Thomas Aquinas. He established during that great time a body of coordinated doctrine and philosophy which no one had yet possessed. The scale of his work is on a par with its cultural value. He seemed to have put his seal upon the civilization which he adorned, and, through his establishment of right reason in philosophy, his marriage of Catholicism with the Aristotelian wisdom, to have set up a structure that would endure for ever and give a norm to our civilization.

In his great study of St. Thomas Aquinas, Belloc's friend G.K. Chesterton describes this "marriage of Catholicism with the Aristotelian wisdom":

The Thomist movement in metaphysics, like the Franciscan movement in morals and manners, was an enlargement and a liberation, it was emphatically a growth of Christian theology from within; it was emphatically not a shrinking of Christian theology under heathen or even human influences. The Franciscan was free to be a friar, instead of being bound to be a monk. But he was more of a Christian, more of a Catholic, even more of an ascetic. So the Thomist was free to be an Aristotelian, instead of being bound to be an Augustinian. But he was even more of a theologian; more of an orthodox theologian; more of a dogmatist, in having recovered through Aristotle the most defiant of all dogmas, the wedding of God with Man and therefore with Matter. Nobody can understand the greatness of the thirteenth century, who does not realise that it was a great growth of new things produced by a living thing. In that sense it was really bolder and freer than what we call the Renaissance, which was a resurrection of old things discovered in a dead thing. In that sense medievalism was not a Renascence, but rather a Nascence. It did not model its temples upon the tombs, or call up dead gods from Hades. It made an architecture as new as modern engineering; indeed it still remains the most modern architecture. Only it was followed at the Renaissance by a more antiquated architecture. In that sense the Renaissance might be called the Relapse. Whatever may be said of the Gothic and the Gospel according to St. Thomas, they were not a Relapse. It was a new thrust like the titanic thrust of Gothic engineering; and its strength was in a God who makes all things new. 

 In a word, St. Thomas was making Christendom more Christian in making it more Aristotelian. This is not a paradox but a plain truism, which can only be missed by those who may know what is meant by an Aristotelian, but have simply forgotten what is meant by a Christian. As compared with a Jew, a Moslem, a Buddhist, a Deist, or most obvious alternatives, a Christian means a man who believes that deity or sanctity has attached to matter or entered the world of the senses. Some modern writers, missing this simple point, have even talked as if the acceptance of Aristotle was a sort of concession to the Arabs; like a Modernist vicar making a concession to the Agnostics. They might as well say that the Crusades were a concession to the Arabs as say that Aquinas rescuing Aristotle from Averrhoes was a concession to the Arabs. The Crusaders wanted to recover the place where the body of Christ had been, because they believed, rightly or wrongly, that it was a Christian place. St. Thomas wanted to recover what was in essence the body of Christ itself; the sanctified body of the Son of Man which had become a miraculous medium between heaven and earth. And he wanted the body, and all its senses, because he believed, rightly or wrongly, that it was a Christian thing. It might be a humbler or homelier thing than the Platonic mind; that is why it was Christian. St. Thomas was, if you will, taking the lower road when he walked in the steps of Aristotle. So was God, when He worked in the workshop of Joseph.
To return to Belloc's views of Descartes and Pascal, Belloc sums them up thus:

. . . these two great men stand for the reaction upon Catholicism as a whole produced by the upheaval of the sixteenth century and early seventeenth century — all that confused movement which has been called the twin warring brothers, Reformation and Renaissance. And when we consider all the effect of them, the way in which Descartes has led to sceptical rationalism, Pascal to a contempt for doctrine and a sort of cloud over the mind in which men lost the Faith, the most remarkable thing still is that both men remained firmly of the Faith, lived in it and died in it. They both were living proofs that the Gates of Hell had not prevailed and that the Church had proved its power to survive. 

For my own part the two things that stand out most vividly in the case of either man are these: Of Descartes, that he had the humility, the faith and the devotion to make the pilgrimage to Loretto; of Pascal, the splendour of his death.

The Holy House of Loreto is in Italy and Descartes went there in 1623. Pascal suffered from great pains in his stomach for years. When he died on August 19, 1662 in Paris his last words were: "May God never abandon me." 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Belloc on Two Philosophers: Descartes and Pascal

Tomorrow, Anna Mitchell and I will conduct our penultimate discussion of Hilaire Belloc's Characters of the Reformation on the Son Rise Morning Show. This time, we'll look at his views of two philosophers: Rene Descartes and Blaise Pascal:

In the midst of these political figures. Kings and Statesmen and Soldiers, whom we have been considering in connection with the great religious struggle of the seventeenth century, we must turn for a moment to two men who had no political power. They were neither Soldiers nor Statesmen nor men of any hereditary position; but they influenced the mind of Europe so greatly that their indirect effect weighed more than the direct effect of others.

These two men stood to each other in time as might a father to a son. Descartes, nearly the contemporary of Cromwell, was born in 1596 and died in 1650. Pascal was twenty-seven years younger, but died only twelve years after Descartes in 1662. It is remarkable to note how both of them survived to see the settlement in the political and military fields of the great quarrel between the Reformation and the Catholic Church.

Since he included two philosophers among his Characters, I think Belloc should have profiled a couple of theologians, perhaps St. Robert Bellarmine or Reginald Cardinal Pole or someone from the School of Salamanca: Pole would have been a great choice to include in the Tudor section; Bellarmine in the Stuart era. Pole had a great role in the Church and in the restoration of Catholicism in England during Mary I's reign; Bellarmine was a great theologian, reformer, and argued against James I's doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings.

Belloc includes these two philosophers, however, because of their influence on philosophy in the modern era and how that influence has affected our culture:

These two men represent the effects upon the Catholic culture of two very great forces let loose by the Reformation, or at any rate let loose by the break-up of the old united Christian order in Europe. The first was Rationalism: the second may be called (I think with propriety) Emotionalism. Both men remained orthodox throughout their lives, each could claim that he was not only orthodox but strongly attached to the Catholic Church and all that the Catholic Church believes and teaches, yet from them proceeded results which stretched throughout the Catholic culture and shook its stability, while at the same time spreading far outside the boundaries of the culture into the Protestant culture and affecting the whole of European thought. 

 Of the two it was Descartes who did the most. He was undoubtedly the greater man — indeed, intellectually one of the greatest men Europe has ever produced. But negatively Pascal was also of high effect, because his example and the power of his word fostered that non-rational dependence upon emotion which is ultimately as disruptive of Catholic solidity as is Rationalism.

He compares their scientific and literary achievements:

Both men were great mathematicians. Descartes much the greater. Both men were remarkable writers, Pascal much the greater. From Pascal you may say comes the whole habit of clear modern prose writing; and from Descartes comes the whole business of analytical geometry and the theory of the calculi, differential and integral.

Belloc clearly appreciates what Descartes accomplished in mathematics but notes that his philosophical method has had a disastrous influence on modern culture:

Descartes approached the problem of the discovery of truth by a process of elimination. "What are we? Whence do we come? Whither do we go? What is the Universe and what are we therein ? " To answer these prime questions he began by throwing overboard everything which he felt he could not, in the new scientific temper of the time, affirm. And he reached the residuum that the only thing of which he was absolutely certain — the only thing which he could take as a first postulate, the only thing "known" whence he could proceed to discover the unknown, was his own existence.

That postulate was undoubtedly true, but it was the postulate of a skeptic, and it has acted ever since as a poison. For there is another thing of which we are also just as certain, really, as we are of our own existence — and that is the existence of things outside ourselves. There is no rational process by which the reality of the external universe can be discovered; all we know is that it can be confidently affirmed. Aristotle, who might be called reason itself; St. Thomas, whose whole process was that of beginning with a doubt, and examining all that there was to be said for that doubt before the denial of it and the corresponding certitude could be arrived at, both postulate this second truth. Not only am I, I, but that which is not myself is just as real as I am, and what is more, can be and is apprehended by myself. 

That is, like all true philosophy, common sense. Your plain man, who is made in the image of God and who, so long as his reason and conscience are not warped, is on the right lines, has no patience with any denial of it. The whole of human society takes it for granted and must take it for granted. The witness in a Court of Justice, the man con- ducting his own affairs, the simplest activities of daily life, takes for granted as absolutely certain, not only the external universe in which we live, but our own power of apprehending it. Descartes returned to the very extreme of the old Greek skepticism, and said, "No, we must begin with the prime certitude of our own existence; from which, no doubt, we can proceed to a second certitude that the external world exists. But we must not take it as a primal postulate." Therefore, it is from Descartes that the whole stream of modern skepticism flows. He built up a system carefully and accurately from so exiguous a beginning; it was like building a pyramid upside down, balanced upon a point, yet that system was stable and indeed on all its main lines it has stood for 300 years. It included the idea which most men still have of space, of the universe in three dimensions and three dimensions only, of the value of physical experiment and the certitude of our scientific conclusions therefrom. Of the certitude also of our power of measurement, upon which all modern physical science is built. The philosophy of Descartes remained stable and held the field because it was supported and continued by the rising flood of physical science. In some of his detailed conclusions he was fantastic, and would seem particularly fantastic in modern eyes; but his general spirit conquered the European mind and directed it right on into the memory of men now living. Indeed, no small part of our bewilderment, when we hear the doubts or questions of the latest physical science, is due to our being disturbed in what we thought to be our quite secure Cartesian philosophy; namely, that matter and spirit are quite distinct, and that all time and motion are referable to fixed standards — and so forth. But there is no denying Descartes' far-reaching influence.

Belloc notes that Pascal has a very different starting point from Descartes in his pursuit of truth:

Pascal started from the very other end from Descartes of the mental process ; not from a search for the last ultimate thing of which reason is certain, but from that which emo- tion most poignantly affirms. With Descartes it was, "I am sure of one thing — that I think." With Pascal it was, " I am sure of one thing — that I feel." Descartes began like a man pursuing a piece of research in history or chemistry; Pascal began like a man moved suddenly by a vision or a great love. The one would have told you that he had done nothing until he had begun to analyse — the other that he had not lived until he had been overwhelmed by a spiritual flood from within.

There were two occasions in Pascal's life in which he suffered or enjoyed that experience which is often called "conversion." Each confirmed the other, without either he would not have been what he was, and it was under the influence of intense personal feeling in the matter of religion that he began his famous quarrel with the Jesuits — which quarrel is, I am afraid, the main source of his reputation in the anti-Catholic world. For the attitude of the anti- Catholic world towards Pascal, and particularly the academic Protestant world, is something like this: — "The Jesuits are the quintessence of Catholicism. Pascal attacked the Jesuits. Therefore, although we are very sorry that he remained orthodox and was never excommunicated we feel that he was on our side."

Belloc describes the conflict between the Jansenists and the Jesuits and Pascal's role as the spokesman for the Jansenists in France. He notes that Pascal's literary legacy is the Pensees and the Lettres Provinciales:

It is strange that the literary and spiritual influence of Pascal should repose as it does upon such a very small body of matter. Apart from the Provinciales the only thing of his that really counts is a jumble of disjointed aphorisms which have had to be edited and re-edited to give them any cohesion, which even so have no unity, and to which the tide is generally given of the Pensees or "Thoughts" of Pascal. Two of his ideas at least were profound and of high value, quite apart from the merely aesthetic value of his power of the "Word." One of these was the somewhat whimsical but arresting conception of the "wager." It is not a rational conception, but it is calculated to make the sceptic think. It amounts virtually to this: — If the Christian revelation be not true, I lose nothing by accepting it. If it be true, I gain everything by accepting it. As against this, I for my part will at once advance a certain sentence of St. Paul's, to the effect that if we are wrong in our choice of the Christian revelation, then we are "of all men the most miserable."

The other and more valuable and what will, I think, prove the most permanent literary "find" of Pascal's was his famous paradox on the coincident greatness and littleness of man. He did not invent that idea of course; it is as old as human thought upon these things: Man is miserably weak, even physically; he is mortal, limited in all his powers, even those of the reason; subject to all manner of suffering and apparently unable to help himself, even where the path to a tolerable existence lies clear. But at the same time man is gifted with a mind which can conceive the universe, he is the child of God and in the image of God, all beauty is at his command, he can even in a sense create, he is vastly greater than anything else there is within our immediate experience, yet he is immeasurably less than what he knows he might be. He is at once despicable and awful; petty and supreme. That consideration on the contrasting and dual nature of man is perhaps the most fecund germ that can be planted in the soil of the mind — and Pascal planted it more surely and deeply than any other man in his brief statement.