Wednesday, November 20, 2019

2020 Book Wish List: First Choice

As I was preparing for my presentations last weekend at the Spiritual Life Center, especially the one about the great parade of Newman speakers who visited the Newman Center at WSU and Newman University in the past (Professor John Crosby, Father Ian Ker, Mary Katherine Tillman, then-Father Avery Dulles, et al), I thought about who should be invited to Wichita if we could meet those standards.

I searched online for "Newman and the New Evangelization" and found this book, which is on my wish list in 2020--and the author is someone I'd like to see in Wichita at the Spiritual Life Center or Newman University. From the Catholic University of America Press:

Reinhard Hütter's main thesis in this third volume of the Sacra Doctrina series is that John Henry Newman, in his own context of the nineteenth century, a century far from being a foreign one to our own, faced the same challenges as we do today; the problems then and now differ in degree, not in kind. Hence, Newman's engagement with these problems offers us a prescient and indeed prophetic diagnosis of what these problems or errors, if not corrected, will lead to—consequences which have more or less come to pass—and, furthermore, an alternative way which is at once thoroughly Catholic and holds contemporary relevance.

The introduction offers a survey of Newman's life and works and each of the subsequent four chapters addresses one significant aspect of Christianity that is not only contested or rejected by secular unbelief, but also has a counterfeit for which not only Christians, but even Catholics have fallen. The counterfeit of conscience is the "conscience" of the sovereign subject (Ch. 1); the counterfeit of faith is the "faith" of one who does not submit to the living authority through which God communicates but rather adheres to the principle of private judgment in matters of revealed religion(Ch.2); the counterfeit of doctrinal development is twofold: (i) paying lip service to development while only selectively accepting its consequences on the grounds of a specious antiquarianism and (ii) invoking development theory to justify all sorts of contemporary changes according to the present Zeitgeist (Ch. 3). Finally, the counterfeit of the university are all those "universities" whose end is not to educate and thereby to perfect the intellect, but rather to feed more efficiently the empire of desire that is informed by the techno-consumerism of today (Ch. 4). The book concludes with an epilogue on Hütter's journey to Catholicism.

The book is to be published on February 15, 2020: I've pre-ordered it at Eighth Day Books!

This might be a preview of Chapter 4 on the "counterfeit of the university" and this interview is fascinating!

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Catholic Emancipation via Antonia Fraser

This book is coming out in paperback now so the hardcover is well-priced. I read it as some background for final preparation of my second Newman Retreat talk last weekend on Newman and the Laity.

From the publisher:

In the eighteenth century, the Catholics of England lacked many basic freedoms under the law: they could not serve in political office, buy or inherit land, or be married by the rites of their own religion. So virulent was the sentiment against Catholics that, in 1780, violent riots erupted in London—incited by the anti-Papist Lord George Gordon—in response to the Act for Relief that had been passed to loosen some of these restrictions.

The Gordon Riots marked a crucial turning point in the fight for Catholic emancipation. Over the next fifty years, factions battled to reform the laws of the land. Kings George III and George IV refused to address the “Catholic Question,” even when pressed by their prime ministers. But in 1829, through the dogged work of charismatic Irish lawyer Daniel O’Connell and the support of the great Duke of Wellington, the watershed Roman Catholic Relief Act finally passed, opening the door to the radical transformation of the Victorian age. Gripping, spirited, and incisive,
The King and the Catholics is character-driven narrative history at its best, reflecting the dire consequences of state-sanctioned oppression—and showing how sustained political action can triumph over injustice.

I certainly agree that Fraser writes "character-driven narrative history": her profiles of historical figures from Lord George Gordon to Cardinal Consalvi, Bishop Milner to Daniel O'Connell, Maria Fitzherbert to Father John Lingard describe their contributions to the ongoing social, political, and Royal struggle to allow Catholics to practice their faith freely. Each chapter describes the proponents and opponents of Catholic Emancipation and the slow progress of Parliamentary efforts toward it. She begins with the Gordon Riots, continues with the situation of the Prince of Wales and Mrs. Fitzherbert (the heir to the throne married to a Catholic widow through a wedding not recognized by the State), King George III's breakdown, English sympathy for Catholic refugees from the French Revolution, Daniel O'Connell's efforts, etc.

Along the way I learned that Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington's older brother, married Marianne Canton Patterson, the grand-daughter of Charles Carroll of Carrollton (her mother was Carroll's daughter Mary). I was surprised that Fraser did not highlight this revolutionary connection, since Carroll was the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence and the only surviving signer at that time.

Fraser dedicates two-thirds of the book to the events and personages dealing with the cause of Catholic Emancipation in Ireland and in England. The last section details the final, reluctant assent of Sir Robert Peel, the Duke of Wellington, and King George IV to Catholic Emancipation after Daniel O'Connell had won a landslide election in County Clare. The remarkably horrid fear of Catholics--King George IV's brother, Ernest Augustus, the Duke of Cumberland (future King of Hanover) actually thought that Catholic Emancipation would mean that England would become a Catholic country with a Catholic government--when Catholics were such a minority in England (but not in Ireland!).

The irony that none of George III's sons were able to marry and successfully beget legitimate male heirs was also remarkable! George IV left Maria Fitzherbert for his consort wife Caroline of Brunswick in 1795 but separated from her in 1796; his only legitimate child, the Princess Charlotte, died in 1817. Of all his brothers, only Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent, had a surviving child, the Princess Alexandrina Victoria, who would succeed her uncle William IV, the former Duke of Clarence (whose two legitimate daughters died in childbirth or infancy).

George IV's Prime Minister, the Duke of Wellington, used this dangerous line of succession against the monarch: an unstable Ireland--provoked by the injustice of an elected representative not being able to take his seat because he's Catholic representing a Catholic constituency in a land 85% Catholic--and an unstable succession of old men without sons to succeed them, should not be an obstacle to the will of his elected government (the future William IV was 64 in 1829; Victoria's father was 62; Ernest Augustus was 58, etc). Two of George IV's brothers, the Duke of Kent and Prince Augustus Frederick, the Duke of Sussex, were in favor of Catholic Emancipation, besides.

So finally Catholic Emancipation was achieved, except that important supporters of O'Connell in Ireland were stripped of the vote when the property value limits were increased for freeholds from forty shilling to ten pounds, reducing the number of Catholic men who could vote. O'Connell regretted that part of the deal. He also had to stand for election again because the law didn't grandfather him in: under his original election, he still had to take an oath denying the Real Presence, etc.

Fraser rightly pays tribute to O'Connell's rhetoric eloquence and strategic brilliance: while not allowing any violence, especially after he had won election, Wellington's government knew there was a threat and the possibility of insurrection. He was one of the heroes of this effort. She also acknowledges Wellington's commitment and even Peel's change of mind. This is a great work of historical storytelling with important consequences. Rather whets my appetite for her Perilous Question: Reform or Revolution: England on the Brink, 1832.

Monday, November 18, 2019

CNA News Podcast


Last Wednesday, I recorded an interview for one of the Catholic News Agency's podcasts, the CNA Newsroom podcasts, which will be posted today. The producer, Kate Veik, asked me to talk about the Blessed Carmelite Martyrs of Compiegne with a focus on a "good death", based on my 2017 article about the Carmelites on the National Catholic Register blog page. The interview should be posted today and there are various ways (apps) you can listen to it!

The Carmelites obviously died "good deaths": they offered their martyrdoms for an end to the bloodshed, violence, and anti-Catholicism of the Reign of Terror; they were true to Jesus and His Church and the vows they had made as cloistered religious.

It was nine (9) years ago on November 16, 2010 that I visited the site of their martyrdom, the grounds of the cemetery in which their bodies were buried in mass graves, and got as close as I could to their graveside behind a wall and a locked gate.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Father Vincent Blehl, SJ RIP

Father Vincent Ferrer Blehl, SJ died on November 14, 2001. As this obituary in The Independent , noted, his life and academic career had many connections to St. John Henry Newman:

Native of the Bronx, Professor of English Literature, Jesuit of the New York Province, 21-year resident of Europe working for the canonisation of a Londoner – all these facts about Vincent Blehl seem like shards from rather incompatible ciphers until one recognises the indicating number – John Henry Newman – the priest, theologian, poet, preacher, and extraordinary man of God.

Vincent Ferrer Blehl was born in 1921 and at the age of 18 entered the Society of Jesus. His studies were commenced at Woodstock College, Maryland, against an increasingly dark international background (the Roosevelts were near neighbours and Blehl often spoke of their kindness in allowing the young students to use part of their grounds for recreation). An MA in English followed, and Blehl's dissertation had the 19th-century English cardinal Newman for its subject (he had developed a keen interest in Newman's
Grammar of Assent when at Woodstock). Blehl's doctoral work at Harvard had the same focus.

Father Blehl worked with Father Charles Stephen Dessain of the Oratory and hoped to work further on Newman's Cause for Canonization, but his superiors had other assignments for him, including the chairmanship of the Department of England at Fordham University. But he finally had his chance to make a great contribution to Newman's Cause:

While Newman's cause had been put firmly on the right track in 1959, the engine had refused to move for 20 years. Those who had been involved were either tied to other commitments, and/or were totally baffled as to how the work might be tackled. In 1979 some exploratory investigations were being undertaken to establish what should be done and how. Learning about this, Blehl was immediately bursting with enthusiasm. He was confident that his superiors would allow him to take early retirement from Fordham and move to Europe and devote himself full time to the work of the cause. The Archbishop of Birmingham constituted a new Historical Commission, with Vincent Blehl as chairman.

Assessing priorities was not always easy at first but by 1984 it was clear what needed to be done and Blehl led those concerned on a rollercoaster which led to the successful completion of the diocesan enquiry in 1986. The cause was then sent on to Rome, and, at this point, Blehl was appointed Postulator, and, as such, was responsible for drawing up the Positio or documentary case for Newman's canonisation. This was finished in 1989 and completed the rounds of the Sacred Congregation's committees of consultors with record speed. In January 1991, Pope John Paul II issued the decree of heroicity of virtue and declared that John Henry Newman was forthwith to be called "Venerable".

He also published several books about Newman or collections of Newman's sermons, letters, and other works. Father Blehl was devoted to making sure that Newman's spirituality and devotion to Jesus Christ were better understood. The White Stone: The Spiritual Theology of John Henry Newman is a great example of this, as is Blehl's introduction to a collection of sermons which includes a foreword by Muriel Spark, whose reading of Newman led her to join the Catholic Church.

Although Father Blehl did not live to see Newman beatified or canonized, his soul surely knows that his work helped the Cause. 

St. John Henry Newman, pray for us!!

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Newman Memories on the Ides of November

“My theme is memory, that winged host that soared about me one grey morning of war-time. These memories, which are my life—for we possess nothing certainly except the past—were always with me."--from Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh.

November is a month for memories: we remember the faithfully departed; we remember the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month at the end of the war that was to end all wars; we remember all the blessings we have received and give thanks for them. My brother and sister and I remember our father's birthday on November 6 and our parents' wedding anniversary on November 25--they are both dead, but those events, not just the celebration of their memory are always with us. Without them, we are not. They are our life. And I do mean "our life" as well as our lives--they are our life as a family.

So I've been preparing for my presentations next week at the Spiritual Life Center for a Newman Retreat Friday, November 15 and Saturday, November 16:

Newman’s writings have long been esteemed by scholars. Now, with his canonization, his influence is being lifted up for all to see; not just for theologians, but for the whole Church. Among many other things, Newman is famous for his explanations of the way doctrine develops, the way God saves us through his Church, and the way people come to know and accept truth. Retreatants will walk through his teachings under the direction of Stephanie Mann and Fr. Tom Hoisington, both of the Wichita Diocese. Stephanie Mann will give two presentations: one focusing on the impact Newman has had in our diocese, and the other on the importance of Newman for the laity in light of his being raised to the altars. Fr. Hoisington will present on Newman’s personalism- his explanation of how an individual subject makes response to objective truth in a way that is both personal and universal- an essential area of Newman’s thought that is often misunderstood and underappreciated. New this retreat, participants will enjoy a Friday evening social time with music, appetizers and drinks as they enjoy each other’s company and build a Catholic Culture. Musician Jack Korbel will provide entertainment. For those who cannot attend the entire retreat, please consider joining us for Friday evening's celebrations for this new Saint!

The Friday evening presentation is made up of memories of all the different programs I've attended since 1979. And for the month of November, especially while we are remembering all the faithful departed, I'm using the word "late" often in my presentation.

The late Bishop David Maloney
The late Father Joseph Gorentz
The late Father Richard Stuchlik
The late Father Charles Taylor
The late H. Lyman Stebbins
The late James Mesa
The late Ralph McInerny
etc,
etc,
etc.

The schedule for Friday night, November 15, includes my presentation "focusing on the impact Newman has had in our diocese" and then we'll have a social hour with a musical performance by Jack Korbel!

On Saturday, November 16, we'll begin the day with Morning Prayer at 9:00 a.m.; then I'll make a presentation on St. John Henry Newman and The Laity: Notes for 21st Century Catholic Faithful; Mass follows, then lunch, and Father Hoisington will then present on Newman's Personalism.

Registration is open at the Spiritual Life Center through November 14!

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The North of England and the South of the USA

From History Today:

In his 1989 book Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America, the historian David Hackett Fischer explained how the regional patterns of emigration to the American colonies can help us understand the very different culture and political outlook of the peoples who live in the modern United States. While the Puritans from East Anglia established communities in New England, the Quakers went to Pennsylvania and what he calls the Anglican ‘Cavaliers’ made the valley of the Delaware their home. The ‘Mountain South’ was settled by a group he refers to as the ‘Borderers’ – a more accurate term than Scotch-Irish – with over 250,000 border English, Scots and Scots-Irish arriving in the Appalachian back-country between 1717 and 1775. . . .

The outlook of the Anglo-Scottish borderlands profoundly shaped the culture of the southern United States in a number of important and enduring ways. First, the seven centuries of warfare between English and Scottish kings meant that Northumbria in particular was much fought over – the ‘ring in which the champions met’ – and this made ordinary lives unusually precarious compared to the rest of England. Likewise, the lawlessness of these borderlands had created opportunities for theft and plunder on a massive scale, with the ‘Border Reivers’ building a whole way of life around the endemic theft of livestock. This created a very different and much more violent and militaristic society than in the rest of England. Societal structures were based around loyalty to local warlords, rather than the manorial system that prevailed elsewhere. Cumbrian and Northumbrian forms of tenancy were designed to maintain large bodies of fighting men to defend the border against the Scots, or to launch retaliatory raids against trespassers – the so-called ‘hot trod’ sanctioned by the ‘Marcher Law’ of the Borders. Here were the origins of the distinctive cowboy culture of the US, based as it was around the patrolling of grazing lands and the rapid pursuit of stolen goods via the armed posses familiar from American Westerns.

Please read the rest there. The writer of the article, Dan Jackson, the author of The Northumbrians: The North-East of England and Its People, A New History (Hurst, 2019), even points out connections between language and pronunciation in the American South and the North of England; place names and physiognomy show the inheritance of traits from English settlers in the South.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Remember, Remember the Fifth of November


Anna Mitchell asked me yesterday to talk about Guy Fawkes Day this morning on the Son Rise Morning Show, so Matt Swaim and I will discuss the continuing celebration of this historical event even though many in England don't know what they are celebrating or why. It's become a long weekend of fireworks and hooliganism. So Matt and I will talk about what Guy Fawkes Day or Bonfire Night "remembers" every November at 6:45 a.m. Central/7:45 a.m. Eastern.

UPDATE: This interview will be repeated tomorrow morning--on the Fifth of November--during the EWTN hour of the Son Rise Morning Show between 5:00 and 6:00 a.m. Central/6:00 and 7:00 a.m. Eastern!

The Fifth of November, Guy Fawkes Day, Bonfire Night: November 5th marks the anniversary of the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605.

I think this is one of the saddest episodes of Catholic reaction to the recusancy and penal laws imposed upon them by the English government. It was so desperate and impossible, not to mention absolutely murderous and immoral. Robert Catesby, Guy Fawkes, and the other conspirators thought that they could blow up Parliament and the Royal Family, except for Elizabeth, the oldest daughter whom they would kidnap and force to rule under their control--and the people of England would rise up against their rulers and put them in charge!

Instead they either died on the scaffold as traitors or in fights with local constabularies. They implicated priests accused of hearing their confessions and not betraying the sanctity of the Sacrament by reporting them to the government and those priests were also sentenced to death. And, of course, the government passed even stricter penal laws against Catholics, restricting their travel, increasing the fines for recusancy, making Catholics liable to search at any time, and requiring all marriages, baptisms, and funerals be registered first in the Church of England, or the family would be fined.

Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot...

For a couple of centuries, the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot was marked by prayers of thanks for deliverance from Catholic plotting. Bonfire Night and the burning of Guy Fawkes and sometimes the current Pope in effigy also continued for two centuries--and there are still bonfires throughout England and former colonial areas today, but some of the historical and religious implications have faded. James Sharpe, in his book on the commemoration of the Gunpowder Plot, traces the fascination with Guy Fawkes, the fading of anti-Catholicism, and the more recent concerns about frightened pets and rowdy drunks. The Guardian posted this review essay in 2005, the 400th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot.

Note that during the Revolutionary War, George Washington forbade his soldiers' celebrating of the Fifth of November. It just didn't make sense at the time.

November 5 also recalls the invasion of Prince William of Orange, landing at Brixham, Torbay in 1688. And this, also, to me is one of the saddest responses of the Anglican elite to the possibility of religious tolerance in England--invite an invasion and depose a legitimately ruling king! William the new conqueror brought a force of around 21,000--mostly foreign mercenaries--including cavalry and artillery. The fact that 1688 was the 100th anniversary of the defeat of the Spanish Armada also seemed providential to the Whigs and Tories who rejected James II and his young son and heir. Unlike the Spanish attempt 100 years ago, this invasion would succeed!

Image Credit: Festivities in Windsor Castle by Paul Sandby, c. 1776

Thursday, October 31, 2019

The Saint and the Hero: Newman's Journey


AGED Saint! far off I heard
    The praises of thy name;—
Thy deed of power, thy prudent word,
    Thy zeal's triumphant flame.

I came and saw; and, having seen,
    Weak heart, I drew offence
From thy prompt smile, thy simple mien,
    Thy lowly diligence.

The Saint's is not the Hero's praise;—
    This I have found, and learn
Nor to malign Heaven's humblest ways,
    Nor its least boon to spurn.

Bay of Biscay.
December 10, 1832.

St. John Henry Newman wrote this poem while he was an Anglican during that eventful trip to Italy and the Mediterranean. As he commented to his mother in a letter on December 11, 1832, he had been writing verse nearly every day of his voyage.

He was travelling with Richard Hurrell Froude and Froude's father as they hoped that a better climate would be beneficial to Richard, who was suffering from consumption (tuberculosis). Newman describes Froude's religious influence on him in the Apologia pro Vita Sua:

Hurrell Froude was a pupil of Keble's, formed by him, and in turn reacting upon him. I knew him first in 1826, and was in the closest and most affectionate friendship with him from about 1829 till his death in 1836. He was a man of the highest gifts,—so truly many-sided, that it would be presumptuous in me to attempt to describe him, except under those aspects in which he came before me. Nor have I here to speak of the gentleness and tenderness of nature, the playfulness, the free elastic force and graceful versatility of mind, and the patient winning considerateness in discussion, which endeared him to those to whom he opened his heart; for I am all along engaged upon matters of belief and opinion, and am introducing others into my narrative, not for their own sake, or because I love and have loved them, so much as because, and so far as, they have influenced my theological views. In this respect then, I speak of Hurrell Froude,—in his intellectual aspect,—as a man of high genius, brimful and overflowing with ideas and views, in him original, which were too many and strong even for his bodily strength, and which crowded and jostled against each other in their effort after distinct shape and expression. And he had an intellect as critical and logical as it was speculative and bold. Dying prematurely, as he did, and in the conflict and transition-state of opinion, his religious views never reached their ultimate conclusion, by the very reason of their multitude and their depth. His opinions arrested and influenced me, even when they did not gain my assent. He professed openly his admiration of the Church of Rome, and his hatred of the Reformers. He delighted in the notion of an hierarchical system, or sacerdotal power, and of full ecclesiastical liberty. He felt scorn of the maxim, "The Bible and the Bible only is the religion of Protestants;" and he gloried in accepting Tradition as a main instrument of religious teaching. He had a high severe idea of the intrinsic excellence of Virginity; and he considered the Blessed Virgin its great Pattern. He delighted in thinking of the Saints; he had a vivid appreciation of the idea of sanctity, its possibility and its heights; and he was more than inclined to believe a large amount of miraculous interference as occurring in the early and middle ages. He embraced the principle of penance and mortification. He had a deep devotion to the Real Presence, in which he had a firm faith. He was powerfully drawn to the Medieval Church, but not to the Primitive.

Newman also comments on the verses he wrote during this journey:

We set out in December, 1832. It was during this expedition that my Verses which are in the Lyra Apostolica were written;—a few indeed before it, but not more than one or two of them after it. Exchanging, as I was, definite Tutorial work, and the literary quiet and pleasant friendships of the last six years, for foreign countries and an unknown future, I naturally was led to think that some inward changes, as well as some larger course of action, were coming upon me. At Whitchurch, while waiting for the down mail to Falmouth, I wrote the verses about my Guardian Angel, which begin with these words: "Are these the tracks of some unearthly Friend?" and which go on to speak of "the vision" which haunted me:—that vision is more or less brought out in the whole series of these compositions.

Here is that poem about his Guardian Angel:

ARE these the tracks of some unearthly Friend,
His foot prints, and his vesture-skirts of light,
Who, as I talk with men, conforms aright
Their sympathetic words, or deeds that blend
With my hid thought;—or stoops him to attend
My doubtful-pleading grief;—or blunts the might
Of ill I see not;—or in dreams of night
Figures the scope, in which what is will end?
Were I Christ's own, then fitly might I call
That vision real; for to the thoughtful mind
That walks with Him, He half unveils His face;
But, when on earth-stain'd souls such tokens fall,
These dare not claim as theirs what there they find,
Yet, not all hopeless, eye His boundless grace.

Whitchurch.
December 8, 1832.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The Triduum of the Dead

Tomorrow is Halloween--All Hallow's Eve--and the Liturgical Arts Journal has a post from the publisher of a prayer booklet for the day and evening of the beginning of these days of special remembrance for the faithful departed:

Halloween is a liturgical holiday. Anyone would be forgiven for not knowing that, because almost nobody keeps it that way anymore—to such a degree that some Catholics are of the opinion that we should wash our hands of the whole business. But Halloween has always belonged properly to the Church, and as such it should be made a key strategic objective in a cultural Reconquista. To help illustrate why, I’d like to walk through the day of October 31st, not as the world celebrates it now, but as the Latin Church celebrated it for centuries, listed in the Martyrology as Vigilia omnium Sanctorum.

The Thirty-first of October would traditionally have begun with the office of Matins before sunrise. Traditionally, weekdays in October Matins featured readings from the Books of Maccabees. But on the 31st, the readings switch to Luke 6 and Ambrose’s homily on the Beatitudes. These lessons appointed for Halloween come from the common “Of Many Martyrs”, and we will see this theme of the Beatitudes reappear not only later in the vigil day but also in the feast of All Saints to follow. . . .

Please read the rest there.

The booklet I referred to, published by Ancilla Press, helps restore Halloween as a liturgical holiday:

Traditional Catholic devotions for Halloween? Yes, you read that right! As neopagans try to co-opt this vigil day for themselves, we’re taking All Hallows Eve back for Holy Mother Church with this fantastic collection. It features liturgical propers of the Mass and the Divine Office for All Hallows Eve, including the full version of "Black Vespers", an old Breton tradition for the afternoon of Halloween. Combat the occult worship of the secular holiday with three powerful prayers against evil spirits, witchcraft, and spells. And transform your childrens' Halloween or All Saints trick-or-treating from mere indulgence to a spiritual work of mercy with the venerable practice of "souling"—praying for the dear departed of benefactors. Combining Celtic, English, and Latin traditions, this unique booklet provides adults and children with an unashamedly Catholic and  historically authentic way to celebrate the beginning of Hallowtide.

Features:
* Traditional Mass propers for All Hallows Eve
* Black Vespers (Vespers of the Dead)

* Little Vespers of All Saints
St. Patrick's Breastplate
* Long form of the St. Michael Prayer by Pope Leo XIII
* A Deliverance Prayer
* Prayer for Those for Whom We are Bound to Pray
* Prayer for Those who Repose in a Cemetery
* Chaplet for the Souls in Purgatory, adapted for Halloween Souling

* Traditional Soul-Cake Recipe
* Cheshire Souling Song (music and lyrics)
* Another Souling Song (lyrics)

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The Decollation of Sir Walter Raleigh

The History website tells us why Sir Walter Raleigh was beheaded on October 29, 1618:

He was a celebrated soldier, a hero on land and sea. He was responsible for the first ever English colonies in the New World. And he wrote poetry that ranks with some of the finest in early modern England. Yet at the age of 54 Sir Walter Raleigh was executed for treason. What caused the downfall of this beloved Renaissance courtier?

For a court favorite, Raleigh actually spent quite a bit of his life locked up in the Tower of London. The first time, in 1592, it was because he’d secretly married his lover, Elizabeth ‘Bess’ Throckmorton, a lady-in-waiting to Elizabeth I. Bess was already pregnant, which explained both the marriage and the secrecy. Enraged by their plotting behind her back, Elizabeth dismissed Bess and imprisoned both of them in the Tower.


Raleigh did regain the Queen's favor eventually and then explored the New World, founding the Roanoke colony in Virginia, and returning from El Dorado (Guyana) promising more gold every time he visited.

While he remained in Elizabeth’s favor until her death, James VI’s of Scotland’s accession to the English throne as James I meant that Raleigh’s fortunes plummeted. This was largely because James was attempting a diplomatic rapprochement with Spain, England’s longstanding enemy, against whom Raleigh had been a formidable foe. England’s funds were depleted by their endless struggles against Spain’s richer, mightier forces, so James decided it was time to end the rivalry. . . .

So Raleigh was tried in a sham trial--never allowed to face his accuser and question him--and imprisoned again:

But James, in his determination to get on Spain’s good side, locked up Raleigh once again in the Tower—this time for 13 years. . . .

It was likely Raleigh’s promises of gold that got him released from prison before his sentence could be carried out: in 1617 he was pardoned so that he could once again travel to Guyana in search of El Dorado. But that quest would ultimately prove fatal: during the expedition a detachment of Raleigh’s men (against his orders) attacked a Spanish outpost, an action that directly contravened the conditions of his pardon.


Because Raleigh's men, led by Lawrence Keymis, had violated the 1604 Treaty of London, the Spanish Ambassador to the Court of St. James, Diego Sarmiento de Acuña, Count of Gondomar, demanded Raleigh's execution (Keymis having committed suicide--Raleigh's namesake eldest son had died in the attack) and James I complied. Raleigh was executed at Whitechapel in London.

In addition to being an explorer, soldier, and courtier, Raleigh was a poet:

WHAT is our life? The play of passion.
Our mirth? The music of division:
Our mothers’ wombs the tiring-houses be,
Where we are dressed for life’s short comedy.
The earth the stage; Heaven the spectator is,
Who sits and views whosoe’er doth act amiss.
The graves which hide us from the scorching sun
Are like drawn curtains when the play is done.
Thus playing post we to our latest rest,
And then we die in earnest, not in jest.

He also wrote The History of the World, in which he was rather critical of Henry VIII:

NOW for King Henry VIII. If all the pictures and patterns of a merciless prince were lost in the world, they might all again be painted to the life out of the story of this king. For how many servants did he advance in haste (but for what virtue no man could suspect), and with the change of his fancy ruined again; no man knowing for what offence! To how many others of more desert gave he abundant flowers from whence to gather honey, and in the end of harvest burnt them in the hive! How many wives did he cut off and cast off, as his fancy and affection changed! How many princes of the blood (whereof some of them for age could hardly crawl towards the block), with a world of others of all degrees (of whom our common chronicles have kept the account), did he execute! Yea, in his very deathbed, and when he was at the point to have given his account to God for the abundance of blood already spilt, he imprisoned the Duke of Norfolk the father, and executed the Earl of Surrey the son; the one, whose deservings he knew not how to value, having never omitted anything that concerned his own honour and the king’s service; the other, never having committed anything worthy of his least displeasure: the one exceeding valiant and advised; the other no less valiant than learned, and of excellent hope. But besides the sorrows which he heaped upon the fatherless and widows at home, and besides the vain enterprises abroad, wherein it is thought that he consumed more treasure than all our victorious kings did in their several conquests; what causeless and cruel wars did he make upon his own nephew King James the Fifth! What laws and wills did he devise, to establish this kingdom in his own issues! using his sharpest weapons to cut off and cut down those branches, which sprang from the same root that himself did. And in the end (notwithstanding these his so many irreligious provisions) it pleased God to take away all his own, without increase; though, for themselves in their several kinds, all princes of eminent virtue.

Monday, October 28, 2019

A Hidden Head of St. Christopher

When old Catholic churches that are now Church of England parishes are renovated and restored, some surprises may occur. The parish church of St. Mary's in Lydiard Tregoze near Swindon in Wiltshire is restoring the wall paintings, etc. According to the BBC, they found something unexpected: a hidden head of St. Christopher:

Paul Gardner, from the project, described the find as "very exciting".

He said a wall plaque was removed which revealed an "amazing niche" that was "very ornate for its time" and "stuffed full of rubble and muddy lime-wash".

"The workers pulled a piece of innocuous rubble out and could see a little face staring back at them. It revealed a head thought to be that of a statue of St Christopher."

Mr Gardner thinks it was hidden by a stonemason ordered to destroy religious artefacts as part of the Reformation era which saw churches vandalised and desecrated.

"They must have been upset to have to break these things up," he said.

The church's website has this note on the restoration project:

A Grade I listed building, St. Mary’s church is a unique and important part of our national heritage. Now, a major conservation project – the first in a century – will preserve its beauty for future generations. The St Mary’s Lydiard Tregoze Conservation Project aims to renovate and conserve the church, to tell its story to a wider audience and to develop its potential as an inspiring educational resource.

Read more here. The church also has a Tudor connection as Henry VII's maternal grandmother, Margaret Beauchamp was first married to Sir Oliver St. John, a great benefactor to the church. By her second marriage to John Beaufort, the 1st Duke of Somerset, she was the mother of Margaret Beaufort, who would marry (her second marriage) Edmund Tudor, the 1st Earl of Richmond and king Henry VI's half-brother.

Saint Christopher was a very popular saint--and still is, even though his feast is not on the Roman Calendar--as the patron saint of travelers. He was invoked as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers starting in the 14th century as the bubonic plague spread in Europe:

The existence of a martyr St. Christopher cannot be denied, as was sufficiently shown by the Jesuit Nicholas Serarius, in his treatise on litanies, "Litaneutici" (Cologne, 1609), and by Molanus in his history of sacred pictures, "De picturis et imaginibus sacris" (Louvain, 1570). In a small church dedicated to the martyr St. Christopher, the body of St. Remigius of Reims was buried, 532 (Acta SS., 1 Oct., 161). St. Gregory the Great (d. 604) speaks of a monastery of St. Christopher (Epp., x., 33). The Mozarabic Breviary and Missal, ascribed to St. Isidore of Seville (d. 636), contains a special office in his honour. In 1386 a brotherhood was founded under the patronage of St. Christopher in Tyrol and Vorarlberg, to guide travellers over the Arlberg. In 1517, a St. Christopher temperance society existed in Carinthia, Styria, in Saxony, and at Munich. Great veneration was shown to the saint in Venice, along the shores of the Danube, the Rhine, and other rivers where floods or ice-jams caused frequent damage. The oldest picture of the saint, in the monastery on the Mount Sinai dates from the time of Justinian (527-65). Coins with his image were cast at Würzburg, in Würtemberg, and in Bohemia.

His statues were placed at the entrances of churches and dwellings, and frequently at bridges; these statues and his pictures often bore the inscription: "Whoever shall behold the image of St. Christopher shall not faint or fall on that day." The saint, who is one of the fourteen holy helpers, has been chosen as patron by Baden, by Brunswick, and by Mecklenburg, and several other cities, as well as by bookbinders, gardeners, mariners, etc. He is invoked against lightning, storms, epilepsy, pestilence, etc. His feast is kept on 25 July; among the Greeks, on 9 March; and his emblems are the tree, the Christ Child, and a staff. St. Christopher's Island (commonly called St. Kitts), lies 46 miles west of Antigua in the Lesser Antilles.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church he is honored as Saint Christopher of Lycea on May 9th.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Frederick Apthorp Paley and Father John Morris

I posted yesterday the story of Father John Morris, SJ, a convert to Catholicism influenced by Newman and other Anglicans becoming Catholic. In that story there was a note about Frederick Apthorp Paley (F.A. Paley) having to leave Cambridge because it was supposed that he had influenced Morris--rather like the Pearson Integrated Humanities Program at the University of Kansas being disbanded because students became Catholic!

Here's Paley's notice in the Catholic Encyclopedia. I find the parts I've put in bold type rather poignant:

Classical scholar, born at Easingwold near York, 14 Jan., 1815; died at Bournemouth, 9 December, 1888, son of the Rev. Edmund Paley and grandson of William Paley who wrote "Evidences of Christianity". He was educated at Shrewsbury School and St. John's College, Cambridge, where he taught and continued to study for eight years after his B. A. degree (1838). His studies were mainly classical; but, despite an incapacity for mathematics, he was interested in mechanics and in natural science and was an enthusiastic ecclesiological antiquary. In 1846, being well known as a Cambridge sympathizer with the Oxford Movement, he was expelled from residence in St. John's College, on suspicion of having influenced one of his pupils to become a Catholic. He was himself received into the Church in this year. For the next fourteen years he supported himself as a private tutor in several Catholic families successively (Talbot, Throckmorton, Kenelm Digby) and by his pen. From 1860, when Tests began to be relaxed, he again lived at Cambridge until 1874; from 1874 to 1877 he was professor of classical literature at the abortive Catholic University College at Kensington. From 1877 till his death he continued to write assiduously. But the interruption of his university career, the want of a settled competence, and his banishment from the place, the society, and the learned facilities which might best have improved his talents and industry, had the effect of rendering nearly all his voluminous production ephemeral. His many classical editions which had a great and not undeserved vogue and influence in their day became soon obsolete and marked no decisive epoch in classical philology. Yet his work on Euripides and Aeschylus in particular may still be consulted with profit, at least as a monument of protest against the Victorian mock-archaic convention in translations from Greek poetry; and it is easy to underrate now the merits of work which met a great demand for school and college use, and itself did much to evoke the more scientific scholarship which has superseded it.

His works number more than fifty volumes, besides numerous magazine articles and reviews contributed to the "American Catholic Quarterly", "Edinburgh Review", "Journal of Philology" etc. The first of his classical publications, and the one which established his reputation as a scholar, was the text of Aeschylus (18447); during the next forty years he edited with the commentaries, Propertius (1853); Ovid's "Fasti" (1854); Aeschylus (1855); Euripides (1857); Hesiod (1861); Theocritus (1863); Homer's "Iliad" (1866); Martial (1868); Pindar (transl. with notes) 1868; Aristophanes' "Peace" (1873); Plato's "Philebus" (1883); "Private Orations of Demosthenes" (l874); Plato's " Thaetetus " (1875); Aristophanes' "Acharnians" (1876); Medicean Scholia of Aeschylus" (1878); Aristophanes' "Frogs " (1878); Sophocles (1880). To these must be added many critical inquiries, especially on the Homeric question, and most of his Commentaries ran through three or four editions, of which Marindin remarks that "every new edition was practically a new work". He found leisure to issue books on architecture; his "Manual of Gothic Mouldings", first published in 1845, went into a fifth edition in l891.


That was that writer's view in the early 20th century. I would hope that Paley, like Newman, would have rejoiced in his spiritual consolations of being part of the one, true fold of Christ. He may have been very happy with all his projects and his achievement in reading those great works, translating, editing, and publishing the results! Cambridge University Press still has his Euripides in print: perhaps Paley's work isn't as obsolete as his biographer supposed.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

"Render to God the things that are God's."

John Hungerford Pollen, SJ appropriately wrote the biography of Father John Morris, SJ, for the Catholic Encyclopedia:

Canon, afterwards Jesuit, F.S.A., b. in India, 4 July, 1826; d. at Wimbledon, 22 Oct., 1893, son of John Carnac Morris, F.R.S. He was educated partly in India, partly at Harrow, partly in reading for Cambridge with Dean Alford, the New Testament scholar. Under him a great change passed over Morris's ideas. Giving up the thought of taking the law as his profession, he became enthusiastic for ecclesiastical antiquities, took a deep interest in the Tractarian movement, and resolved to become an Anglican clergyman. Going up to Trinity College, Cambridge, in October, 1845, he became the friend, and then the pupil of F.A. Paley, grandson of the well-known divine, and already one of the leading Greek scholars of the university. 

The conversion of Newman, followed by the receptions of so many others, deeply impressed him, and he was reconciled by Bishop Wareing, 20 May, 1846. A storm followed, beginning in the "Times", which made itself felt even in Parliament. Paley had to leave Cambridge (which led to his subsequently joining the Church), while Morris was practically cast off by his family. 

He then went to the English College, Rome, under Dr. Grant, and was there during the revolution of 1848. Soon after the restoration of the English Hierarchy in 1850, he was made Canon of Northampton, and then returned as vice-rector to Rome (1853-1856). He now became postulator for the English Martyrs, whose cause owes perhaps more to him than to any other person. Returning to England, he took part in the third Synod of Westminster, became secretary to Cardinal Wiseman, whom he affectionately nursed on his death-bed, and served under Archbishop Manning, until he became a Jesuit in 1867. 

He taught Church History from 1873-1874; he was Rector of St. Ignatius' College, Malta, from 1877-78; master of novices in 1879; and director of the writers of the English Province in 1888. Always remarkable for his ardent affectionate nature, his untiring energy and earnest holiness of life, he was also an excellent scholar, an eloquent speaker, and a high-principled leader of souls. 

His death befitted his life; for he expired in the pulpit, uttering the words, "Render to God the things that are God's." 

His principal works are: "The Life and Martyrdom of St. Thomas Becket" (London, 1859 and 1885); "The Life of Father John Gerard" (London, 1881), translated into French, German, Spanish, and Polish; "Troubles of our Catholic Forefathers" (3 vols., London, 1872-1877); "Letter-books of Sir Amias Poulet" (London, 1874); and many contributions to "The Month", "The Dublin Review", "Archæologia", and other periodicals.

He is buried in the Gap Road Cemetery in Wimbledon.

I say it's appropriate that Pollen wrote about Morris because he had written a book-length biography of his Jesuit colleague, including his letters. Pollen describes the influence of St. John Henry Newman's conversion on Morris in 1845 when he just arrived at Cambridge:

John Morris went up to Cambridge in October, 1845, carrying with him the high expectations which Alford had formed of his future progress, and the proud hopes which his father entertained of his distinguishing himself at the University. His stay there was destined to be brief, though pregnant with important issues. It resulted in a cruel disappointment to his father, while it permanently affected his tutor’s position. As regards himself, it ended in his embracing the true faith, and receiving the further great grace of a vocation to the religious life. Before he had time to settle down in his rooms in the New Court at Trinity, the whole country was talking of John Henry Newman’s reception into the Catholic Church. Thousands of Anglicans besides Morris felt that their own adherence to the body in which they were born might soon become a point for serious consideration, and they set about examining anew the grounds of safety for their own position. In Morris’s case, the Anglican theory of the Church, to which he had hitherto clung, began slowly to lose its force with him. At first, indeed, with inborn loyalty, he tried his best to preserve his confidence in the beliefs which he had so ingenuously accepted. His state of mind at that time reveals itself in a series of letters, which he wrote from Cambridge, to Mr. Ambrose Lisle Phillipps, and which show that he held out as long as he conscientiously could, against the ever deepening conviction, that the Roman Church was after all the one and only Church.

In chapter 8 of that biography, Pollen describes Morris's efforts to promote the causes of the English Catholic martyrs of the Reformation era, beginning with this description of their status before Morris (and he) worked so diligently to document their sufferings:

As Father Morris’s conversion and religious vocation were the most important events, of which we are cognizant in his interior life, so the chief external work of his life is connected with his efforts in behalf of the English Martyrs. In this cause he was engaged for forty years, not continuously indeed, but with interruptions due to the delays of others or to the pressure of conflicting occupations, not to any want of perseverance on his part. Fifty years ago the names and the fame of the splendid line of witnesses to England’s lost Faith were in danger of falling into hopeless oblivion. They had already faded away into mere distant, indistinct memories, the long but inevitable silence of ecclesiastical authority concerning them having given rise to a feeling of uncertainty in the minds of Catholics. If the sufferers had really died for the Faith, why did they not receive the honour due to martyrs? Could it possibly be that there was something more than false accusation in the treason with which they had been charged by their persecutors ? Hence had arisen timidity in speaking and writing of them, a timidity which was natural in those who had so long languished under a cruel proscription, and were now looking for fairer treatment from their former oppressors.

St. John Henry Newman, pray for us!
Holy Catholic Martyrs of England and Wales, pray for us!

Monday, October 21, 2019

Confessions, Surprises, and Apologies

On Saturday evening last, Jessica Hooten Wilson, Associate Professor at John Brown University, presented "'Maddened Beauty': Imagination as Knowing in C. S. Lewis" at the Inklings Festival for Eighth Day Institute. It was an interesting lecture, but did not seem to fulfill all the promise of the abstract:

All over C. S. Lewis’s work (fictional and nonfiction), Lewis speaks of imagination as a way of knowing. We’ll consider The Abolition of Man, Experiment in Criticism, The Discarded Image, Reflections on the Psalms, and even Lewis’ biography Surprised by Joy to understand what this means for us. How might poetry and Norse mythology offer knowledge that arguments will never grasp? What’s the difference between irrational, rational, and transrational? Lewis compels us to cultivate our imaginations not as a path of escape but as a deeper road to understanding reality and as a higher road towards the knowledge, ultimately, of God.

We really did not "consider The Abolition of Man, Experiment in Criticism, The Discarded Image, Reflections on the Psalms", although she mentioned the Experiment in Criticism and The Discarded Image. Her focus was Surprised by Joy and how to understand the role of imagination in Lewis' conversion and his conversion story. She began by citing an important hint in the Preface to Surprised by Joy: "The book aims at telling the story of my conversion and is not a general autobiography, still less "Confessions" like those of St. Augustine or Rousseau." She noted that if Lewis told us that we should know what not to expect in Lewis' book.

Then she read the beginning of Rousseau's Confessions:

I have entered upon a performance which is without example, whose accomplishment will have no imitator. I mean to present my fellow-mortals with a man in all the integrity of nature; and this man shall be myself.

I know my heart, and have studied mankind; I am not made like any one I have been acquainted with, perhaps like no one in existence; if not better, I at least claim originality, and whether Nature did wisely in breaking the mould with which she formed me, can only be determined after having read this work.

Whenever the last trumpet shall sound, I will present myself before the sovereign judge with this book in my hand, and loudly proclaim, thus have I acted; these were my thoughts; such was I. With equal freedom and veracity have I related what was laudable or wicked, I have concealed no crimes, added no virtues; and if I have sometimes introduced superfluous ornament, it was merely to occupy a void occasioned by defect of memory: I may have supposed that certain, which I only knew to be probable, but have never asserted as truth, a conscious falsehood. Such as I was, I have declared myself; sometimes vile and despicable, at others, virtuous, generous and sublime; even as thou hast read my inmost soul: Power eternal! assemble round thy throne an innumerable throng of my fellow-mortals, let them listen to my confessions, let them blush at my depravity, let them tremble at my sufferings; let each in his turn expose with equal sincerity the failings, the wanderings of his heart, and, if he dare, aver, I was better than that man.


Contrasting the beginning of St. Augustine's Confessions:

Great art Thou, O Lord, and greatly to be praised; great is Thy power, and Thy wisdom infinite. And Thee would man praise; man, but a particle of Thy creation; man, that bears about him his mortality, the witness of his sin, the witness that Thou resistest the proud: yet would man praise Thee; he, but a particle of Thy creation. Thou awakest us to delight in Thy praise; for Thou madest us for Thyself, and our heart is restless, until it repose in Thee. Grant me, Lord, to know and understand which is first, to call on Thee or to praise Thee? and, again, to know Thee or to call on Thee? for who can call on Thee, not knowing Thee? for he that knoweth Thee not, may call on Thee as other than Thou art. Or, is it rather, that we call on Thee that we may know Thee? but how shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? or how shall they believe without a preacher? and they that seek the Lord shall praise Him: for they that seek shall find Him, and they that find shall praise Him. I will seek Thee, Lord, by calling on Thee; and will call on Thee, believing in Thee; for to us hast Thou been preached. My faith, Lord, shall call on Thee, which Thou hast given me, wherewith Thou hast inspired me, through the Incarnation of Thy Son, through the ministry of the Preacher.

And how shall I call upon my God, my God and Lord, since, when I call for Him, I shall be calling Him to myself? and what room is there within me, whither my God can come into me? whither can God come into me, God who made heaven and earth? is there, indeed, O Lord my God, aught in me that can contain Thee? do then heaven and earth, which Thou hast made, and wherein Thou hast made me, contain Thee? or, because nothing which exists could exist without Thee, doth therefore whatever exists contain Thee? Since, then, I too exist, why do I seek that Thou shouldest enter into me, who were not, wert Thou not in me? Why? because I am not gone down in hell, and yet Thou art there also. For if I go down into hell, Thou art there. I could not be then, O my God, could not be at all, wert Thou not in me; or, rather, unless I were in Thee, of whom are all things, by whom are all things, in whom are all things? Even so, Lord, even so. Whither do I call Thee, since I am in Thee? or whence canst Thou enter into me? for whither can I go beyond heaven and earth, that thence my God should come into me, who hath said, I fill the heaven and the earth.


Tracing Lewis' encounters with "Joy" in his childhood imagination, Hooten Wilson developed the theme of that longing for "Joy" that Lewis tried to describe and hold on to--the yearning, aching, desire for something beyond himself:

The first is itself the memory of a memory. As I stood beside a flowering currant bush on a summer day there suddenly arose in me without warning, and as if from a depth not of years but of centuries, the memory of that earlier morning at the Old House when my brother had brought his toy garden into the nursery. It is difficult to find words strong enough for the sensation which came over me; Milton's "enormous bliss" of Eden (giving the full, ancient meaning to "enormous") comes somewhere near it. It was a sensation, of course, of desire; but desire for what? not, certainly, for a biscuit-tin filled with moss, nor even (though that came into it) for my own past. [Greek: Ioulian pothô] --and before I knew what I desired, the desire itself was gone, the whole glimpse withdrawn, the world turned commonplace again, or only stirred by a longing for the longing that had just ceased. It had taken only a moment of time; and in a certain sense everything else that had ever happened to me was insignificant in comparison.

The second glimpse came through Squirrel Nutkin; through it only, though I loved all the Beatrix Potter books. But the rest of them were merely entertaining; it administered the shock, it was a trouble. It troubled me with what I can only describe as the Idea of Autumn. It sounds fantastic to say that one can be enamoured of a season, but that is something like what happened; and, as before, the experience was one of intense desire. And one went back to the book, not to gratify the desire (that was impossible--how can one possess Autumn?) but to re-awake it. And in this experience also there was the same surprise and the same sense of incalculable importance. It was something quite different from ordinary life and even from ordinary pleasure; something, as they would now say, "in another dimension".

The third glimpse came through poetry. I had become fond of Longfellow's
Saga of King Olaf: fond of it in a casual, shallow way for its story and its vigorous rhythms. But then, and quite different from such pleasures, and like a voice from far more distant regions, there came a moment when I idly turned the pages of the book and found the unrhymed translation of Tegner's Drapa and read

I heard a voice that cried,
Balder the beautiful
Is dead, is dead----

I knew nothing about Balder; but instantly I was uplifted into huge regions of northern sky, I desired with almost sickening intensity something never to be described (except that it is cold, spacious, severe, pale, and remote) and then, as in the other examples, found myself at the very same moment already falling out of that desire and wishing I were back in it.


Then Lewis describes how that joy left him through bad education and poor choices for achievement (reading the right books, knowing the right people, etc) and how he rediscovered it when he began to read Norse mythology again, drawn by Arthur Rackham's illustrations for Siegfried and the Twilight of the Gods.

But I admit that when she started talking about Lewis' childhood experiences of Joy, I thought of the beginning of another story of a conversion, Newman's Apologia pro Vita Sua--also a work unlike either Rousseau's or Augustine's Confessions or Lewis' Surprised by Joy--but one that begins in imagination:

IT may easily be conceived how great a trial it is to me to write the following history of myself; but I must not shrink from the task. The words, "Secretum meum mihi," keep ringing in my ears; but as men draw towards their end, they care less for disclosures. Nor is it the least part of my trial, to anticipate that, upon first reading what I have written, my friends may consider much in it irrelevant to my purpose; yet I cannot help thinking that, viewed as a whole, it will effect what I propose to myself in giving it to the public.

I was brought up from a child to take great delight in reading the Bible; but I had no formed religious convictions till I was fifteen. Of course I had a perfect knowledge of my Catechism.

After I was grown up, I put on paper my recollections of the thoughts and feelings on religious subjects, which I had at the time that I was a child and a boy,—such as had remained on my mind with sufficient prominence to make me then consider them worth recording. Out of these, written in the Long Vacation of 1820, and transcribed with additions in 1823, I select two, which are at once the most definite among them, and also have a bearing on my later convictions.

1. "I used to wish the Arabian Tales were true: my imagination ran on unknown influences, on magical powers, and talismans … I thought life might be a dream, or I an Angel, and all this world a deception, my fellow-angels by a playful device concealing themselves from me, and deceiving me with the semblance of a material world."

Again: "Reading in the Spring of 1816 a sentence from [Dr. Watts's] Remnants of Time, entitled 'the Saints unknown to the world,' to the effect, that 'there is nothing in their figure or countenance to distinguish them,' &c. &c., I supposed he spoke of Angels who lived in the world, as it were disguised."

2. The other remark is this: "I was very superstitious, and for some time previous to my conversion" [when I was fifteen] "used constantly to cross myself on going into the dark."


Newman displays some of the same diffidence that Lewis does about disclosing so much about himself and risking irrelevance. But for both Newman and Lewis, those childhood glimpses of something beyond themselves lasted for a lifetime. Newman's recollections of fairy stories and a dream world, and angels in disguise in the real world did have a bearing on his later convictions, so much so that they inform his chosen epitaph: Ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem (From shadows and images into truth).

Jessica Hooten Wilson is an elegant and winsome presenter; it was good of her to fill in when the scheduled speaker could not come because of his wife's illness; I look forward to her participation in the 2020 Symposium: For I Am Holy: The Command to Be Like God!!

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Father George Rutler on Saint John Henry Newman


Father George Rutler, who presented at a Newman School of Catholic Thought at the Newman Center in 1995 (the 150th anniversary of Saint John Henry Newman's becoming a Catholic), wraps up my Octave of celebration on Newman's canonization with this message:

Last week’s canonization of Saint John Henry Newman will have universal influences that I trust will include our own parish. It should be remembered that his achievements, for the most part, hardly seemed successful at the time. He might even be called a patron saint of the disappointed.

Newman was so nervous in his university examinations that he got a “Lower Second Class” degree. He played the violin to relax, but the chords of his mind were taut, and he later suffered a nervous breakdown. He failed to attain a professorship of Moral Philosophy. Many Oxford dons derided his views, and eventually he resigned.

When Newman became a Catholic, former friends thought he had wasted his talents, and some Catholics questioned his free spirit and innovative genius. Not least among these were bishops. In Ireland, Archbishop Cullen impeded his foundation of a Catholic University there and opposed making Newman a bishop. In England, Cardinal Manning, a great man in some ways but not innocent of envy, regularly thwarted numerous projects. The English-language secretary of Pope Pius IX prejudiced the pope’s opinion of Newman, and with no little subtlety, Manning tried to prevent the new Pope Leo XIII from vindicating him with a Cardinal’s red hat.

Newman left a legacy of 32 volumes of letters, and in some of them he confided his frustrations. But his amiability and patience won over many. In old age, Newman’s Oxford college made him an honorary Fellow, and at Newman’s death Manning himself said, “The history of our land will hereafter record the name of John Henry Newman among the greatest of our people, as a confessor for the faith, a great teacher of men, a preacher of justice, of piety, and of compassion.”

Newman kept his balance by a steady faith in the uncompromising truth of Christ. This boldly defied the pastiche of true Christianity that was spreading in his time and which he prophesied would become endemic in our own age:

"What is the world's religion now? It has taken the brighter side of the gospel, its tidings of comfort, its precepts of love; all darker, deeper views of man's condition and prospects being comparatively forgotten. This is the religion natural to a civilized age and well has Satan dressed and completed it into an idol of the Truth. . . . Our manners are courteous; we avoid giving pain or offence . . . religion is pleasant and easy; benevolence is the chief virtue; intolerance, bigotry, excess of zeal are the first of sins. . . . [I]t includes no true fear of God, no fervent zeal for His honour, no deep hatred of sin, no horror at the sight of sinners, no indignation and compassion at the blasphemy of heretics, no jealous adherence to doctrinal truth . . .—and therefore is neither hot nor cold, but (in Scripture language) lukewarm.” (Sermon 24. Religion of the Day)

That sort of “Catholic-Lite” does not make saints, and Newman proved that.


In 2011, my late husband Mark and I visited the Church of Our Saviour in New York City, then under Father Rutler's care, and I took the picture of the first shrine to then Blessed John Henry Newman in the USA, created and installed with the typical Rutler style and finesse. Father Rutler has been pastor at the Church of Saint Michael the Archangel in Hell's Kitchen since 2013 and on the church's website you can see a photograph of the bust of St. John Henry Newman created by Christopher Alles:

The image of the newly canonized Saint John Henry Newman, which will be blessed at the 10 o'clock Mass on Sunday, October 13, is the work of our parishioner Christopher Alles, who also sculpted the angels atop the new baldacchino and has completed other artistic projects for the parish. He took inspiration from classic photos of John Henry Newman, along with reference to previous artists, to complete his portrait of this great Saint. The sculpture is deliberately designed to increase the sense of presence, with one hand holding a book and the figure paused in contemplation. The piece was cast in bronze by Independent Casting in Philadelphia. Mr. Alles is a New York-based artist who specializes in sacred art and architectural sculpture. We are grateful to friends of the parish who have so kindly and generously donated funds for the completion of this work, and to Christopher for his time and labor in providing this artistic and devotional addition to our church. He and his wife Emma are expecting their first child in December.

More views of the bust are available at the artist's website.

O God, who bestowed on the Priest Saint John Henry Newman the grace to follow your kindly light and find peace in your Church; graciously grant that, through his intercession and example, we may be led out of shadows and images into the fulness of your truth. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

St. John Henry Newman, pray for us!

Saturday, October 19, 2019

A Pause for Lewis and Eighth Day Books

As I continue to observe my personal Octave of celebrating Newman's canonization, I make brief pause to consider one of the leaders of another Oxford Movement, C.S. Lewis. This evening, the Eighth Day Institute, as one of the events of its Fifth Annual Inklings Festival presents Jessica Hooten Wilson, Associate Professor at John Brown University, lecturing on "'Maddened Beauty': Imagination as Knowing in C. S. Lewis."

The abstract:

All over C. S. Lewis’s work (fictional and nonfiction), Lewis speaks of imagination as a way of knowing. We’ll consider The Abolition of Man, Experiment in Criticism, The Discarded Image, Reflections on the Psalms, and even Lewis’ biography Surprised by Joy to understand what this means for us. How might poetry and Norse mythology offer knowledge that arguments will never grasp? What’s the difference between irrational, rational, and transrational? Lewis compels us to cultivate our imaginations not as a path of escape but as a deeper road to understanding reality and as a higher road towards the knowledge, ultimately, of God.

After her presentation, we'll proceed to celebrate Eighth Day Book's 31st (THIRTY-FIRST) anniversary at the book store. I'm bringing cupcakes and congratulations!

Of course, there's a Newman connection here, for he also "speaks of imagination as a way of knowing". For example, this famous quotation from the Tamworth Reading Room, his argument against Sir Robert Peel's library without any books of "controversial divinity":

The heart is commonly reached, not through the reason, but through the imagination, by means of direct impressions, by the testimony of facts and events, by history, by description. Persons influence us, voices melt us, looks subdue us, deeds inflame us. Many a man will live and die upon a dogma: no man will be a martyr for a conclusion. A conclusion is but an opinion; it is not a thing which is, but which we are "certain about;" and it has often been observed, that we never say we are certain without implying that we doubt. To say that a thing must be, is to admit that it may not be. No one, I say, will die for his own calculations; he dies for realities. This is why a literary religion is so little to be depended upon; it looks well in fair weather, but its doctrines are opinions, and, when called to suffer for them, it slips them between its folios, or burns them at its hearth.

Newman specialists like Gerard Magill, Bernard Dive, and Ian Ker have authored studies of Newman and the religious imagination through the years (Magill focused on religious morality). This article from America Magazine summarizes various aspects of Newman's view of imagination as a way of knowing. As Father Robert P. Imbelli writes, Newman wants us to know Jesus Christ above all:

At the heart of Newman’s religious faith and theological vision stands the person of Jesus Christ. Here human yearning finds its consummation, and “all the providences of God” cohere around this vivifying center. Thus Incarnation is the central idea or principle that grounds and sustains Christian life and imagination. Moreover, Cardinal Newman views Incarnation not merely as remedy for sin, but as fulfillment of God’s creative and sanctifying purpose. In this he consciously resembles his great Oxford predecessor Duns Scotus.

But in Newman’s thought, the idea of Incarnation is no impersonal notion. It has all the concrete particularity of its historical embodiment in Jesus Christ. In Jesus men and women encounter the Word of God in person and are called to genuine newness of life.


O God, who bestowed on the Priest Saint John Henry Newman the grace to follow your kindly light and find peace in your Church; graciously grant that, through his intercession and example, we may be led out of shadows and images into the fulness of your truth. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

St. John Henry Newman, pray for us!