Sunday, June 30, 2019

Tomorrow: the First of July

Tomorrow is a big day: I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show to discuss St. Oliver Plunkett; we'll know when Blessed John Henry Newman will be canonized; it's the optional memorial of St. Junipero Serra, and it's the first day of July, the month dedicated in traditional Catholic devotion to the Precious Blood of Jesus. Blessed Thomas Maxwell was executed on July 1, 1616. Finally, July 1 is the anniversary of the trial of St. Thomas More in Westminster Hall--a venue which he and St. Oliver Plunkett have in common.

So I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show in my usual time slot, 7:50 a.m. Eastern/6:50 a.m. Central to talk about St. Oliver Plunkett, the last Catholic priest to be executed in England. He wasn't arrested in England for being a missionary priest, however: he was the Archbishop of Armagh in Ireland and was brought to England to stand trial in connection with the Popish Plot! Pope Benedict XV beatified him in 1920; Pope Paul VI canonized him, the first of the Irish martyrs of the English Reformation era and its aftermath, in 1975.

When Pope Paul VI canonized the martyr, he began his remarks in Gaelic:

Dia's muire Dhíbh, a chlann Phádraig! Céad mile fáilte rómhaibh! Tá Naomh nua againn inniu: Comharba Phádraig, Olibhéar Naofa Ploinéad. (God and Mary be with you, family of Saint Patrick! A hundred thousand welcomes! We have a new Saint today: the successor of Saint Patrick, Saint Oliver Plunkett). Today, Venerable Brothers and dear sons and daughters, the Church celebrates the highest expression of love-the supreme measure of Christian and pastoral charity. Today, the Church rejoices with a great joy, because the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, is reflected and manifested in a new Saint. And this new Saint is Oliver Plunkett, Bishop and Martyr-Oliver Plunkett, successor of Saint Patrick in the See of Armagh-Oliver Plunkett , glory of Ireland and Saint, today and for ever, of the Church of God, Oliver Plunkett is for all-for the entire world-an authentic and outstanding example of the love of Christ. And on our part we bow down today to venerate his sacred relics, just as on former occasions we have personally knelt in prayer and admiration at this shrine in Drogheda.

On Thursday last week the Holy See Press Office issued a bulletin announcing an "Ordinary Public Consistory for the Vote on various Causes of Canonization":

On Monday 1 July 2019, at 10.00, in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father Francis will preside at the celebration of Terce and the Ordinary Public Consistory for the Canonization of the Blesseds:

- John Henry Newman, Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, founder of the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri in England;
- Giuseppina Vannini (born Giuditta Adelaide Agata), founder of the Daughters of Saint Camillus;
- Maria Teresa Chiramel Mankidiyan, founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family;
- Dulce Lopes Pontes (born Maria Rita), of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God;
- Margarita Bays, virgin of the Third Order of Saint Francis of Assisi.

to Edward Pentin in the National Catholic Register, we should also find out when the canonization(s) will be held, probably some time this fall:

Informed sources have speculated that Sunday Oct. 13 could be the most likely date for the canonization Mass. Indian bishops will be in Rome for their ad limina visit during that time, which would coincide with the canonization of Blessed Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan. It would also fall during the Oct. 6-27 Pan-Amazonian Synod when many bishops will be in Rome.

Another reason such a date would be fitting, given Blessed John Henry Newman was a convert from Anglicanism, is that this coming November marks the 10th anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Constitution
Anglicanorum coetibus which provided personal ordinariates for Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic Church.

The Oratories of England (Birmingham, London, Oxford) have launched a website for details about the imminent canonization of Blessed John Henry Newman!

More background on the optional memorial of St. Junipero Serra here.

It's interesting to note that devotion to the Precious Blood of Jesus--with differences of course--is something Catholics and some Protestants share! We are saved by the Blood of Jesus, shed upon the Cross. One of the sources for this devotion is the First Letter of St. Peter, Chapter 1, verses 17-21, but especially verse 19.

For Blessed Thomas Maxfield's story, read this.

More about the trial of St. Thomas More here.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

At the End of a Month of Solemnities

Image Credit (CC BY-SA 4.0)
From the Peterskirche, Vienna, Austria

June 2014 was like this June: packed with Solemnities. Homiletic & Pastoral Review ran this article of mine a year later when it was almost true:

This June is a very solemn month. There are six solemnities on the liturgical calendar: Pentecost Sunday, Trinity Sunday, Corpus Christi, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, and Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles. The first four are movable feasts, scheduled according to the date of Easter each year: Pentecost Sunday, 50 days after Easter, Trinity Sunday, a week after Pentecost Sunday; Corpus Christi, the Thursday after Trinity Sunday (usually moved to the Sunday following, in the U.S.); and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Friday after Corpus Christi. The Birth of St. John the Baptist is a fixed feast: June 24th. In Quebec, his feast is celebrated with parades and festivities since he is the patron saint of that Canadian province. The Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul is on June 29 . . .

For those who celebrated Ascension Thursday on Ascension Sunday, there were actually seven! 

Because this year the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, being fixed on June 29 and the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus--being a movable feast, based on the movable Solemnity of Corpus Christi, which is scheduled based on the date of Easter Sunday every year--is on June 28, we do not celebrate the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary this year. It would usually be on the Saturday after the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart.

This is one of those orderly and hierarchical elements of Catholicism: there are distinctions between how we celebrate certain days. If you attend daily Mass with any regularity on these days you see the difference. 

Solemnities are the highest level of celebration: at Mass, we'll sing or recite the Gloria and the Nicene Creed, and there are three readings--just like a Sunday Mass. We begin the celebration of Solemnities the evening before with Vespers in the Divine Office. The readings are specific to the Solemnity and the other Propers highlight the celebration. Solemnities are often Holy days of Obligation.

Feasts are the next highest level: at Mass we'll sing or recite the Gloria but not the Creed and there is no vigil. (Except for the Feast of the Presentation!) Some readings will be required during Mass; for example, when the Feast celebrates an Apostle, a reading from the New Testament that mentions the saint will be obligatory; there are just two readings (Epistle and Gospel): Except for the Feast of the Presentation! It's an exceptional feast! When February 2 occurs on a Sunday the Feast of the Presentations takes precedence. (Perhaps it should be called a Solemnity?)

Memorials and optional memorials of saints are the next level: usually the Collect and other prayers mention the saint, but the readings are part of the cycle in the Lectionary. An optional memorial is just that: it is optional whether or not it is celebrated. 

On some days, there is more than one memorial to choose from, like January 23: Saint Vincent, Deacon and Martyr or Saint Marianne Cope, Virgin; February 8: Saint Jerome Emiliani or Saint Josephine Bakhita, Virgin; May 25: Saint Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor of the Church or Saint Gregory VII, Pope or Saint Mary Magdalene de’Pazzi, Virgin, etc. The priest may decide whom to commemorate according to the devotion of the parish. 

As this website summarizes it:

For complete details on the order of precedence, please consult the General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the New General Roman Calendar issued by Pope Paul VI in 1969. Nevertheless, the basic rule of thumb is this: Sundays, other Solemnities, Holy Week, and the Octave of Easter always take precedence. These are followed by Feasts, weekdays of Advent (December 17-24), days within the Octave of Christmas, weekdays of Lent, obligatory memorials, optional memorials, weekdays of Advent (through December 16), other weekdays of the Christmas Season, other weekdays of the Easter Season, and weekdays in Ordinary Time.

Notice also from that website that religious communities, dioceses and even countries can celebrate a saint's memorial as a feast:

Particular churches, countries, or religious communities may also celebrate the memorials of other saints of “special significance” in accord with their special devotions. For example, the memorial in honor of the patron saint of a diocese is raised to a “feast.”

In the USA, for example, June 22 is the Memorial of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More. In England, it's a Feast! 

Note on the Calendar for England and Wales, the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul was moved to Sunday, June 30 so that the memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is celebrated today on Saturday, June 29.

Those "weekdays" when there is no memorial or feast to celebrate are also called ferial days, as this website explains:

In the revised liturgical calendar, a weekday on which no special feast or vigil is celebrated in the Mass or the Liturgy of the Hours. On ferial days the Mass may be that of the preceding Sunday, or an optional memorial, or a votive Mass, or a Mass for the deceased. During Advent and Lent ferial days are in a privileged category, and the same freedom in the choice of Masses is not allowed. In general, the Mondays through Fridays of each week are called ferial days (feriae) and are counted, in sequence, from two to six. Sunday, or the Lord's Day (Dominica), is always the first day, and Saturday (Sabbatum) is the seventh day of the week.

Feria means "free day"! On a ferial day, a priest may choose to celebrate a Votive Mass, like celebrating the Votive Mass of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on a ferial Friday.

For each liturgical year, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops publishes a calendar that contains notes about which feasts or memorials are celebrated and which aren't. For example:
7. Since the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is celebrated on June 28, 2019, the Memorial of Saint Irenaeus, Bishop and Martyr, is omitted this year. 
8. Since the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles, is celebrated on June 29, 2019, the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary is omitted this year. 
9. Since December 8, 2019, is the Second Sunday of Advent, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is transferred to Monday, December 9, 2019. The obligation to attend Mass, however, does not transfer. The Optional Memorial of Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, December 9, is omitted this year.
In spite of these variations, however, in her private devotions, any Catholic may observe a saint on his or her feast day. 

So: Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!

Friday, June 28, 2019

Three Things about the Sacred Heart of Jesus

First, this prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus by Blessed John Henry Newman, from his Meditations and Devotions, which he was preparing for the students at the Oratory School in Birmingham:

O SACRED Heart of Jesus, I adore Thee in the oneness of the Personality of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. Whatever belongs to the Person of Jesus, belongs therefore to God, and is to be worshipped with that one and the same worship which we pay to Jesus. He did not take on Him His human nature, as something distinct and separate from Himself, but as simply, absolutely, eternally His, so as to be included by us in the very thought of Him. I worship Thee, O Heart of Jesus, as being Jesus Himself, as being that Eternal Word in human nature which He took wholly and lives in wholly, and therefore in Thee. Thou art the Heart of the Most High made man. In worshipping Thee, I worship my Incarnate God, Emmanuel. I worship Thee, as bearing a part in that Passion which is my life, for Thou didst burst and break, through agony, in the garden of Gethsemani, and Thy precious contents trickled out, through the veins and pores of the skin, upon the earth. And again, Thou hadst been drained all but dry upon the Cross; and then, after death, Thou wast pierced by the lance, and gavest out the small remains of that inestimable treasure, which is our redemption.

My God, my Saviour, I adore Thy Sacred Heart, for that heart is the seat and source of all Thy tenderest human affections for us sinners. It is the instrument and organ of Thy love. It did beat for us. It yearned over us. It ached for us, and for our salvation. It was on fire through zeal, that the glory of God might be manifested in and by us. It is the channel through which has come to us all Thy overflowing human affection, all Thy Divine Charity towards us. All Thy incomprehensible compassion for us, as God and Man, as our Creator and our Redeemer and Judge, has come to us, and comes, in one inseparably mingled stream, through that Sacred Heart. O most Sacred symbol and Sacrament of Love, divine and human, in its fulness, Thou didst save me by Thy divine strength, and Thy human affection, and then at length by that wonder-working blood, wherewith Thou didst overflow.

O most Sacred, most loving Heart of Jesus, Thou art concealed in the Holy Eucharist, and Thou beatest for us still. Now as then Thou savest, Desiderio desideravi—"With desire I have desired." I worship Thee then with all my best love and awe, with my fervent affection, with my most subdued, most resolved will. O my God, when Thou dost condescend to suffer me to receive Thee, to eat and drink Thee, and Thou for a while takest up Thy abode within me, O make my heart beat with Thy Heart. Purify it of all that is earthly, all that is proud and sensual, all that is hard and cruel, of all perversity, of all disorder, of all deadness. So fill it with Thee, that neither the events of the day nor the circumstances of the time may have power to ruffle it, but that in Thy love and Thy fear it may have peace.

Second, another Oratorian and convert to Catholicism, Father Edward Caswall, translated these two hymns for the feast of the Sacred Heart:

"To Christ, the Prince of Peace" a translation of "Summi Parentis Filio" (an anonymous work):

To Christ, the Prince of peace,
And Son of God most high,
The Father of the world to come,
We lift our joyful cry.

Deep in His heart for us
The wound of love He bore,
That love which He enkindles still
In hearts that Him adore.

O Jesu, Victim blest,
What else but love divine
Could Thee constrain to open thus
That sacred heart of Thine?

O wondrous Fount of love,
O Well of waters free,
O heavenly Flame, refining Fire,
O burning Charity!

Hide us in Thy dear heart,
Jesu, our Savior blest,
So shall we find Thy plenteous grace
And Heav’n’s eternal rest.

And the other, "All You Who Seek a Comfort Sure" a translation of another anonymous lyric, from the 18th century, "Quincumque certum quaeritis":

All ye who seek for sure relief
In trouble and distress,
Whatever sorrow vex the mind,
Or guilt the soul oppress:

Jesus, Who gave Himself for you,
Upon the Cross to die,
Opens to you His sacred heart:
O to that heart draw nigh.

Ye hear how kindly He invites;
Ye hear His words so blest:
"All ye that labour come to me,
And I will give you rest.'

O Jesus, joy of saints on high,
Thou hope of sinners here,
Attracted by those loving words,
To Thee I lift my prayer.

Wash Thou my wounds in that dear blood
Which forth from Thee doth flow;
New grace, new hope inspire; a new
And better heart bestow.

I may sing these hymns tonight as I attend Mass for the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi here in Wichita, Kansas.

Third, there a connection between the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the English Reformation. In 15th century England, the Friday following the Octave of the Feast of Corpus Christi was dedicated to the Five Wounds of Christ. Devotion to the Five Wounds of Chris is kind of a medieval precursor of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Five Wounds are the piercing wounds to the hands, the feet, and side of Jesus on the cross. 

As Eamon Duffy demonstrated in The Stripping of the Altars, this was a very popular devotion to the Passion of Christ in England before the Reformation. Through prayers and meditations, the penitent recalled the suffering of Jesus on the cross and pleaded for the forgiveness of sins. 

During the English Reformation, it developed a powerful symbolism beyond the devotion: Pilgrims opposed to the dissolution of the monasteries carried banners depicting the Five Wounds; Blessed Margaret Pole was attainted of treason because an emblem of the Five Wounds was found in her belongings so that Henry's officials argued that she favored the Pilgrimage of Grace. During the Northern Rebellion, the banners flew again, an obvious reference to that earlier rebellion--and a statement to Elizabethan regime that, the Act of Uniformity notwithstanding, some in England still wanted the old time religion of Catholicism.

The connection between the devotion to the Sacred Heart and the Five Wounds of Jesus is surely most clearly seen in the piercing of His Heart by the Roman soldier: "But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out." (John: 19:34). The blood and water were interpreted (as in this example from St. John Chrysostom) from early on in the Church's history as symbolic of the Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist, and as the life and spirit of the Church, itself a Sacrament of God's Grace. You might notice that the banner of the Five Wounds makes that connection very clearly, with the Heart and the Chalice at the center instead of a pierced heart.

The Anglican Ordinariate continues the tradition of Votive Masses to the Five Wounds of Jesus in it Divine Worship Missal.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!

Thursday, June 27, 2019

His Faith Was His Crime: St. John Southworth

The Archdiocese of Westminster celebrates its martyr saint today, St. John Southworth, executed for the crime of being a priest in 1654. He had been arrested and protected by Queen Henrietta Maria and suffered imprisonment several times. Southworth assisted St. Henry Morse, SJ, during an attack of the plague. Finally, he was arrested and executed during Oliver Cromwell's Protectorate.

As the Westminster Cathedral website explains:

In 1618, John Southworth was ordained a priest at the English College, Douai (Douay) in Northern France. After returning to England, he was arrested and condemned to death in Lancashire in 1626, and imprisoned first in Lancaster Castle, and afterwards in the Clink Prison, London. On 11 April, 1630, he and some other priests were delivered to the French Ambassador for transportation abroad, but, in 1636, he was reported to have been released from the Gatehouse, Westminster, and was living at Clerkenwell. From there it seems he frequently visited the plague-stricken dwellings of Westminster to administer the sacraments and comfort the sick and the dying. In 1637, he appears to have been based in Westminster, where he was arrested on 28 November, before being again sent to the Gatehouse. From there he was transferred to the Clink and, in 1640, was brought before the Commissioners for Causes Ecclesiastical, who sent him back there.

On 16 July, John Southworth was again freed, but by 2 December he was once more imprisoned in the Gatehouse. After his final apprehension on 19 June 1654, he was tried at the Old Bailey, where he insisted on pleading guilty to being a priest. He was reluctantly condemned to be hung, drawn and quartered. On the day of his martyrdom, he was allowed to make a long speech at the gallows.

Among his last words:

“My faith and obedience to my superiors is all the treason charged against me; nay, I die for Christ’s law, which no human law, by whomsoever made, ought to withstand or contradict… To follow His holy doctrine and imitate His holy death, I willingly suffer at present; this gallows I look on as His Cross, which I gladly take to follow my Dear Saviour…I plead not for myself…but for you poor persecuted Catholics whom I leave behind me.
"My faith is my crime, the performance of my duty the occasion of my condemnation. I confess I am a great sinner; against God I have offended, but am innocent of any sin against man, I mean the Commonwealth, and the present Government."

The Venetian Secretary reported on his execution: he was hanged, and was not dead when the executioner "cut out his heart and entrails and threw them into a fire kindled for the purpose, the body being quartered . . . Such is the inhuman cruelty used towards the English Catholic religious."

The Spanish ambassador returned his corpse to Douai for burial. His corpse was sewn together and parboiled, to preserve it. Following the French Revolution, his body was buried in an unmarked grave for its protection. The grave was discovered in 1927 and his remains were returned to England. They are now kept in Westminster Cathedral in London. He was beatified in 1929. In 1970, he was canonized by Pope Paul VI as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. The Cathedral honors him with a guild and the diocese celebrates his feast today.

Last year, the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, highlighted St. John Southworth in a pastoral letter asking everyone to pray for their priests, including those who were being ordained that year:

St John Southworth is a key patron saint of the priests of this diocese. He is an inspiration and an intercessor for us. We bring his body into the central aisle of the cathedral not only for his feast day but so that he is there among the candidates for the priesthood on the day of their ordination. Next Saturday, in the cathedral, six men will be ordained priests for service in our parishes. During the singing of the Litany of the Saints, they will prostrate themselves, face down on the floor. In their midst will be the prostrate body of the Martyr. But he lies face up, reflecting the glory of God shining in him as he now enjoys the fullness of God's grace in heaven. He is indeed our special patron. 

Today I ask you to pray for all our priests. Pray particularly for the six new priests and the priest(s) serving in your parish. Our lives may not be as dramatic nor as full of public conflict as the life of St John Southworth. Yet we priests strive to express in our daily ministry exactly the same dedication to the mission of Jesus Our Lord as he did. Like him, we depend on the support and love of faithful people. For St John Southworth that was literally a matter of life and death. While that deadly drama has ended, over the centuries a marvellous tradition has remained of genuine love for priests and a readiness to support them, through thick and thin. I ask you, today, to continue that tradition and share it with your families.

St. John Southworth, pray for us! St, John Southworth, pray for good, holy priests!

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Summer School at the SLC

Yes, I'm going to Summer School! I'm attending, with three other GKC group friends and several other friends and acquaintances, the eight week Christendom Academy book discussion course at the Spiritual Life Center. We meet from 9 a.m. to Noon with lunch following. Mass is offered at 8:15 a.m., so yesterday I was able to complete my interview on the Son Rise Morning Show, leave home by 7:30 and arrive at the Center a little before 8:00 to prepare for celebrating the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist!

We discussed Sophocles's Antigone today; last week, The Epic of Gilgamesh; next week, the Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. One of the themes we discussed today was the Greek idea of the polis, referencing H.D.F. Kitto's classic, The Greeks!

The rest of the readings:

The Epistle of St. James
Life of St. Anthony (St. Athanasius)
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

The purpose of the Christendom Academy:

What has the cultural heritage of Christendom taught us about what it means to be a human person? What does it means to be happy? What is the meaning of suffering? What are our duties and responsibilities, and why do we have them? What does this all have to do with God, sin and judgment, and the afterlife?

Drawing upon pre-Christian tradition (what Joseph Pieper and others have referred to as ‘original revelation’), the Catholic Church has continued throughout its history to provide answers to these questions, and provided the framework for man to understand himself and the world around him. This program will highlight the unique contributions Western Civilization has made to our understanding of philosophy, theology, spirituality, morality, and citizenship. Students will be invited to learn new ways to answer perennial questions like who am I? Where have I come from and where am I going? What contribution am I called to make for my own salvation, for the good of my family, and the good of the world?

Course content will be drawn from a handful of writings whose contents are essential to the development of Christian culture, as we delve deeply into the wellsprings of the Catholic tradition that has shaped the history of the world, and provided the lens through which every contemporary man examines himself.

More about the program, including biographies of the three tutors, here.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Newman and Papal Infallibility, Part II

Finishing up my discussion with Anna Mitchell of Newman and Papal Infallibility on the Son Rise Morning Show this morning at 7:50 a.m. Eastern/6:50 a.m. Central, I want to highlight a statement Blessed John Henry Newman made in his 1865 edition of the Apologia pro Vita Sua, expressing the depths of his belief in Jesus Christ and the Church He founded:

FROM the time that I became a Catholic, of course I have no further history of my religious opinions to narrate. In saying this, I do not mean to say that my mind has been idle, or that I have given up thinking on theological subjects; but that I have had no variations to record, and have had no anxiety of heart whatever. I have been in perfect peace and contentment; I never have had one doubt. I was not conscious to myself, on my conversion, of any change, intellectual or moral, wrought in my mind. I was not conscious of firmer faith in the fundamental truths of Revelation, or of more self-command; I had not more fervour; but it was like coming into port after a rough sea; and my happiness on that score remains to this day without interruption.

Nor had I any trouble about receiving those additional articles, which are not found in the Anglican Creed. Some of them I believed already, but not any one of them was a trial to me. I made a profession of them upon my reception with the greatest ease, and I have the same ease in believing them now. I am far of course from denying that every article of the Christian Creed, whether as held by Catholics or by Protestants, is beset with intellectual difficulties; and it is simple fact, that, for myself, I cannot answer those difficulties. Many persons are very sensitive of the difficulties of Religion; I am as sensitive of them as any one; but I have never been able to see a connection between apprehending those difficulties, however keenly, and multiplying them to any extent, and on the other hand doubting the doctrines to which they are attached. Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt, as I understand the subject; difficulty and doubt are incommensurate. There of course may be difficulties in the evidence; but I am speaking of difficulties intrinsic to the doctrines themselves, or to their relations with each other. A man may be annoyed that he cannot work out a mathematical problem, of which the answer is or is not given to him, without doubting that it admits of an answer, or that a certain particular answer is the true one. . . . 

He offers the example of the doctrine of the Real Presence in Holy Communion (the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus coming to us under the forms of Bread and Wine) and compares believing in it to believing in the Holy Trinity, one God; three Persons:

People say that the doctrine of Transubstantiation is difficult to believe; I did not believe the doctrine till I was a Catholic. I had no difficulty in believing it, as soon as I believed that the Catholic Roman Church was the oracle of God, and that she had declared this doctrine to be part of the original revelation. It is difficult, impossible, to imagine, I grant;—but how is it difficult to believe? Yet Macaulay thought it so difficult to believe, that he had need of a believer in it of talents as eminent as Sir Thomas More, before he could bring himself to conceive that the Catholics of an enlightened age could resist "the overwhelming force of the argument against it." "Sir Thomas More," he says, "is one of the choice specimens of wisdom and virtue; and the doctrine of transubstantiation is a kind of proof charge. A faith which stands that test, will stand any test." But for myself, I cannot indeed prove it, I cannot tell how it is; but I say, "Why should it not be? What's to hinder it? What do I know of substance or matter? just as much as the greatest philosophers, and that is nothing at all;"—so much is this the case, that there is a rising school of philosophy now, which considers phenomena to constitute the whole of our knowledge in physics. The Catholic doctrine leaves phenomena alone. It does not say that the phenomena go; on the contrary, it says that they remain; nor does it say that the same phenomena are in several places at once. It deals with what no one on earth knows any thing about, the material substances themselves. And, in like manner, of that majestic Article of the Anglican as well as of the Catholic Creed,—the doctrine of the Trinity in Unity. What do I know of the Essence of the Divine Being? I know that my abstract idea of three is simply incompatible with my idea of one; but when I come to the question of concrete fact, I have no means of proving that there is not a sense in which one and three can equally be predicated of the Incommunicable God.

That's a remarkably humble statement from a fine mind like Newman's: I admit my own limitations to understanding the greatest mysteries of the world: the reality of God, the Holy Trinity, and God becoming man and leaving His Presence on earth in the form of bread and wine in Holy Communion. I admit that I cannot completely understand them, but I can still accept them--and I should! I cannot submit these great truths to the limitations of my intellect and knowledge when "the oracle of God" proclaims them!

I quote these paragraphs because they demonstrate that Newman was ready to accept the doctrine of Papal Infallibility as it was defined at the First Vatican Council. He saw some of the difficulties of the proclamation of that doctrine; its timing; its purpose; its context--but he already believed that the Catholic Church was infallible herself in her teachings. He accepted that when the pope spoke on certain matters, he was speaking infallibly, with the Church. Even if there were a ten thousand difficulties with the First Vatican Council and Pastor Aeternus, they would not make him doubt Jesus and His Church. He was predisposed to assent and obey.

Nevertheless, Newman also defended the right of individual Catholics to 'think on theological subjects' with a certain amount of freedom. He reminded the Duke of Norfolk and William Gladstone that he had said as much in 1850 when he spoke to those--like Gladstone--members of the Oxford Movement who'd remained in the Church of England:
"Left to himself," I say, "each Catholic likes and would maintain his own opinion and his private judgment just as much as a Protestant; and he has it and he maintains it, just so far as the Church does not, by the authority of Revelation, supersede it. The very moment the Church ceases to speak, at the very point at which she, that is, God who speaks by her, circumscribes her range of teaching, then private judgment of necessity starts up; there is nothing to hinder it … A Catholic sacrifices his opinion to the Word of God, declared through His Church; but from the nature of the case, there is nothing to hinder him having his own opinion and expressing it, whenever, and so far as, the Church, the oracle of Revelation, does not speak." (from Certain Difficulties Felt by Anglicans in Catholic Teaching Considered In Twelve Lectures addressed in 1850 to the Party of the Religious Movement of 1833; AKA Anglican Difficulties)
In his concluding remarks, Newman contended that “the field of religious thought which the duty of faith occupies, is small indeed compared with that which is open to our free, though of course to our reverent and conscientious, speculation” including his own method of answering Gladstone’s “Vatican Decrees”.

This was Newman’s final reply to Gladstone’s contention that Catholics had no freedom of thought and that any Englishman or woman who became a Catholic would give up the freedom of thought he or she had hitherto enjoyed as Queen Victoria’s subject.

Gladstone would reply to Newman's Letter to the Duke of Norfolk but Newman did not respond. In Vaticanism: an Answer to Reproofs and Replies, Gladstone restated his regret that Newman had left the Church of England. He had been shocked and horrified when Newman had become a Catholic in 1845, but he also saw what a great intellect the Church of England had lost. Of course, he thought that intellect was wasted on "the Church of Rome"!

Almost more important than convincing Gladstone that the British Empire had little to fear for its Catholic citizen’s civil allegiance after the definition of Papal Infallibility, Newman was able to begin the process among Catholics of understanding the consequences of the doctrinal definition. Even Ward had to admit that Newman’s statement of the limits of Papal Infallibility was correct. In fact, he was not going to read an infallible papal encyclical every morning because it was not necessary nor practicable. As Anna Mitchell and I noted last Monday, he would had to live a long time: until 1950, when Pope Pius XII, after consulting the bishops and theologians, proclaimed the doctrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, ex cathedra.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Preview: Newman and Papal Infallibility, Part II

As I mentioned on Facebook on Monday, June 17, Anna Mitchell and I decided that we should continue our discussion of Newman and Papal Infallibility on Monday, June 24 at the usual time, 7:50 a.m. Eastern/6:50 a.m. Central on the Son Rise Morning Show. We really didn't get to how Newman responded to William E. Gladstone when the Whig Politician/High Church Anglican wrote a pamphlet urging English Catholics to refuse to accept the recently announced teaching on Papal Infallibility so they could remain free and loyal English subjects. I presume I'll be talking to Matt Swaim this time.

In 1874 Gladstone published The Vatican Decrees in Their Bearing on Civil Allegiance and Newman responded in 1875 with his Letter to the Duke of Norfolk. Henry FitzAlan Howard was the pre-eminent Catholic peer, Earl Marshall of England, from a noble family boasting two Catholic martyrs (Philip Howard and William Howard).  Newman knew how important this response was because, as I told the participants at the Florovsky-Newman week:
Newman took his time in responding to Gladstone, because he knew he was also responding to the Ultramontanists, like William G. Ward, who wanted an Infallible Papal encyclical published every morning so he could read it at breakfast with The London Times. As editor of the Dublin Review Ward had also emphasized the pope’s temporal power including a medieval type of authority over rulers—exactly the kind of outrageous claims Gladstone believed Pastor Aeternus ratified. . . .
Gladstone stated that the Pope demanded "absolute obedience" but Newman noted that Pastor Aeternus never used the word "absolute" and stated:
“I give absolute obedience to neither [the Pope nor the Queen], because if either of them demanded absolute obedience “he or she would be transgressing the laws of human society.” He would have to pray, think, and perhaps consult others if given conflicting direct commands from both of them on the same matter at the same time. But then, Newman asks, “What is the use of impossible cases?” or presenting “hypothetical and unreal” situations; England is a nation of laws and administration; what is Gladstone afraid that Catholics will do? They would have to run for election, propose bills in Parliament like any other citizen of Great Britain if they wanted to do anything to advance any “Papal” or “Catholic” cause. Gladstone feared what the Pope might say about “discipline and regimen” imagining a wide range of papal commands. Newman suggested that if Great Britain had diplomatic relations with the Holy See, misunderstandings like this could be managed, since those terms referred to internal regulations and liturgical rubrics.
Gladstone thought that Papal excommunications were infallible. Newman reminded him that “a Pope is not infallible in his laws, nor in his commands, nor in his acts of state, nor in his administration, nor in his public policy. Let it be observed that the Vatican Council has left him just as it found him here.”
To Gladstone's most serious charge that Papal Infallibility interfered with the free exercise of English Catholics' consciences, Newman demonstrated that could not be true, even if the pope ordered some specific action, which he was unlikely to do:
Newman brings up a couple of “hypothetical and unreal” situations:

Thus, if the Pope told the English Bishops to order their priests to stir themselves energetically in favour of teetotalism, and a particular priest was fully persuaded that abstinence from wine, &c., was practically a Gnostic error, and therefore felt he could not without sin; or suppose there was a Papal order to hold lotteries in each mission for some religious object, and a priest could say in God's sight that he believed lotteries to be morally wrong, that priest in either of these cases would commit a sin hic et nunc if he obeyed the Pope, whether he was right or wrong in his opinion . . .
Again, if the pope did order some particular action, it would not be infallible when it did not fulfill the standard for an infallible papal definition:
“If he forbade his flock to eat any but vegetable food, or to dress in a particular fashion (questions of decency and modesty not coming into the question), he would also be going beyond the province of faith . . .” These would not be statements with infallible weight because they do not pertain to something necessary to salvation: “No one would so speak of lotteries, nor of a particular dress, nor of a particular kind of food;—such precepts, then, did he make them, would be simply external to the range of his prerogative.”
I'll conclude these comments and excerpts from the Letter to the Duke of Norfolk on Monday in my reminder for this special Santo Subito! sequel!

Image Credit: Gladstone in 1874, painted by Franz von Lenbach

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The Beginning of the End: St. John Fisher and the Carthusians

Image Credit: Martyrs of the London Charterhouse, Vicente Carducho

On June 17, 1535, St. John Fisher was tried, convicted of treason, and sentenced to death by being hanged, drawn and quartered. Those who had opposed Henry VIII's Supremacy and his putting Katherine of Aragon aside and marrying Anne Boleyn were facing their trials and executions. Bishop Fisher spoke to the Court after being found guilty:

My lords, I am here condemned before you of high treason for denial of the King’s supremacy over the Church of England, but by what order of justice I leave to God, Who is the searcher both of the king his Majesty’s conscience and yours; nevertheless, being found guilty, as it is termed, I am and must be contented with all that God shall send, to whose will I wholly refer and submit myself. And now to tell you plainly my mind, touching this matter of the king’s supremacy, I think indeed, and always have thought, and do now lastly affirm, that His Grace cannot justly claim any such supremacy over the Church of God as he now taketh upon him; neither hath (it) been seen or heard of that any temporal prince before his days hath presumed to that dignity; wherefore, if the king will now adventure himself in proceeding in this strange and unwonted case, so no doubt but he shall deeply incur the grievous displeasure of the Almighty, to the great damage of his own soul, and of many others, and to the utter ruin of this realm committed to his charge, wherefore, I pray God his Grace may remember himself in good time, and harken to good counsel for the preservation of himself and his realm and the quietness of all Christendom.

Two days later, on June 19, 1535, the second group of Carthusians were executed: Blesses Humphrey Middlemore, William Exmew and Sebastian Newdigate. Arrested on May 25, they had been imprisoned in Marshalea for about a fortnight before their trial at Westminster on June 11. The three were taken before the Privy Council before their trial, refused again to swear Henry's oaths and were condemned to death. While in prison, they were chained at the neck and hand and foot against pillars, unable to move. 

Newdigate had been a member of Henry's Privy Chamber and had sworn the Oath of Succession, acknowledging Henry's marriage to Anne Boleyn and their heirs--but he could not accept Henry's supremacy over the Church in England. Henry visited him while he was the in the Tower of London after being brought before the Privy Council. Newdigate refused Henry's offers and was brought to trial with the two other priors.

Thomas Bedyll, one of Henry's chaplains and another member of his Privy Chamber had harassed the Carthusians after the execution of their first leaders on May 4, pressing them to take the Oath of Supremacy. He reported them to Thomas Cromwell, noting their obstinacy.

The outcome of the trial on June 11 was certain, of course, and they were found guilty of treason and sentenced to being hung, drawn and quartered at Tyburn. Reports indicate that they went to their deaths as to a feast, with eagerness and joy!

These three Carthusians were beatified by Pope Leo XIII on December 9, 1886, along with Thomas More, John Fisher, the other Carthusians, etc, totaling 54. The decree was issued on December 29, 1886 to coincide with the Feast of St. Thomas a Becket, "whose faith and constancy these Blessed Martyrs so strenuously imitated".

The painting featured above is from an extensive series of works by Vicente Carducho in honor of Carthusian saints and martyrs in the Chartreuse Monasterio de Santa María de El Paular, now a Benedictine monastery. It was confiscated by the Spanish government in 1835 during the reign of Queen Isabella II of Spain, three hundred years after the martyrdoms of the Carthusians of Charterhouse of London. According to the J. Paul Getty Museum of Art:

Florentine by birth, Vicente Carducho arrived in Spain in 1585 with his brother Bartolomé, who participated in decorating King Philip II's Escorial palace. As apprentice to his brother, Carducho was steeped in the classical Italian tradition: his paintings featured careful drawing, smooth surfaces, and classicizing compositions. In 1609 Vicente succeeded his brother as royal painter, a position he kept for life. After Diego Velázquez arrived in 1623, however, Carducho and other court painters often found themselves overshadowed by the young genius.

Carducho primarily painted religious subjects. In 1632 he completed Europe's most extended cycle of monastic paintings: fifty-six influential canvases illustrating the lives of Saint Bruno and other Carthusians for a Carthusian monastery near Segovia. Carducho may be most recognized for his contributions to Spanish art theory. His
Diálogos de la Pintura of 1633 championed Michelangelo and the Italian classical tradition while defending painting as a noble pursuit. The artist, wrote Carducho, is a learned humanist, not just a craftsman; painters should uplift people morally. In attacking Caravaggio's new dramatic realism and its "external copying of nature," Carducho called him a "monster of genius and talent," "Anti-Michelangelo" and "Anti-Christ."

More on Carducho here from the Museo del Prado.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Newman and Papal Infallibility

As I previewed on Friday, today's topic in our Santo Subito! series on the Son Rise Morning Show is Newman on Papal Infallibility. (7:50 a.m. Eastern/6:50 a.m. Central).

Newman was not opposed to Papal Infallibility per se as the First Vatican Council met. He was more opposed to what some in the Ultramontanist Party at the Council meant by Papal Infallibility, going beyond faith and morals and into political and social definitions and even verging on Papal Indefectibility, holding that the Pope could make no personal error. Newman was also concerned that some wanted to vest Infallibility in the person, not the office.

As the Council continued and reports demonstrated that his concerns about how the Ultramontane group (and even Pope Pius IX) was treating those who thought the timing for the definition unfortunate, he became more concerned. But he also knew that this was how Councils were: Church History showed him that men and not angels were proposing and debating crucial issues in the Church. Even the early Councils of the Church, defining what the Church believed about the Person of Jesus and His Natures, led to division and confusion. When the bishops left Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus, or Chalcedon, new heresies arose and they had to meet again and again to define the truth--and even after the Church's teaching about Jesus was finally expressed, there was schism.

As I told the participants at the Eighth Day Institute's Florovsky-Newman Week:

When Pastor Aeternus was finally voted on, he was pleased to see that Papal Infallibility was narrowly defined; he waited to see how the dissenting bishops responded: securus judicat orbis terrarum! Newman made no public statement except to again deny rumours that he was going to leave the Catholic Church (he had to make these periodically!)

Only when William E. Gladstone, former Prime Minister, published
The Vatican Decrees in Their Bearing on Civil Allegiance in 1874 did Newman respond in 1875 with his Letter to the Duke of Norfolk, addressing his counter-argument to the pre-eminent Catholic peer, Henry FitzAlan Howard, scion of a family with two martyrs (Philip Howard and William Howard) in its pedigree. Selecting the 15th Duke of Norfolk as his public correspondent was testing Gladstone’s main contention: that Catholics could not be loyal Englishmen if they accepted Papal Infallibility. Was the Earl Marshall of England, who happened to be a Catholic and a graduate of Newman’s Oratory School, not a loyal Englishman? Did Gladstone really mean that?

We discussed Newman's response to Gladstone's notion that Catholics in England would have to suppress or ignore their consciences in order to accept the doctrine of Papal Infallibility in March when we talked about Newman and Conscience. What Newman also accomplished in A Letter to the Duke of Norfolk was explaining how limited the use of Papal Infallibility was. Again, from my paper:

Besides, he reminded Gladstone, the Pope’s Infallibility is limited to speaking on matters of faith and morals as abstract doctrine and principles, not on individual decisions of what to do or not to do in a certain situation. . . .

In a later chapter, on “The Vatican Definition” Newman emphasizes that the Pope speaks infallibly only under certain conditions:
He speaks ex cathedrâ, or infallibly, when he speaks, first, as the Universal Teacher; secondly, in the name and with the authority of the Apostles; thirdly, on a point of faith or morals; fourthly, with the purpose of binding every member of the Church to accept and believe his decision.
When the Pope is speaking his mind on any subject like the interpretation of scripture, economics, history, etc., he is not infallible because “he is not in the chair of the universal doctor.” Even if the Pope makes dogmatic statements in an encyclical, as Pope John Paul II did in The Gospel of Life, reiterating Catholic teaching against abortion, for example, those are not exercises of Papal Infallibility. 

Since the definition of Papal Infallibility in 1870, only one Pope has used this power: Pope Pius XII when defining the doctrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1950. In spite of his reservations about the First Vatican Council's conduct, Newman accepted the work of the Council, but he knew that the Church--the whole Church, including the laity and the theologians, needed time to understand the theology and practice of the doctrine of Papal Infallibility. The First Vatican Council was abbreviated by the Franco-Prussian War and the cause of Italian unity, as the Italian Army was soon at the gates; the Papal States were lost and the long period the Pope as "the prisoner of the Vatican" began. 

Newman was always ready to obey the Pope and pray for the Pope as this 1866 Sermon preached at the Birmingham Oratory shows. He also helped Catholics and non-Catholics understand Papal Infallibility, providing an explanation that Father John O'Malley, in his book Vatican I: The Council and the Making of the Ultramontane Church, says “soon achieved almost canonical status” by answering Gladstone's objections.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Preview: Newman and Papal Infallibility

On Monday, June 17, I presume that Anna Mitchell and I (since I talked to Matt Swaim last time) will discuss Blessed John Henry Newman and Papal Infallibility on the Son Rise Morning Show. We are continuing our Santo Subito! series at 7:50 a.m. Eastern DST and 6:50 a.m. Central DST on Sacred Heart Radio. She'll repeat the segment during the EWTN national hour sometime after our live broadcast.

On October 6, 1845, just days before he became a Catholic, Blessed John Henry Newman retracted his statements against the Catholic Church and the Papacy. In his Apologia pro Vita Sua, he notes that when he was 15 years old he firmly believed the Pope was the Antichrist:

Now I come to two other works, which produced a deep impression on me in the same Autumn of 1816, when I was fifteen years old, each contrary to each, and planting in me the seeds of an intellectual inconsistency which disabled me for a long course of years. I read Joseph Milner's Church History, and was nothing short of enamoured of the long extracts from St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, and the other Fathers which I found there. I read them as being the religion of the primitive Christians: but simultaneously with Milner I read [Sir Isaac] Newton On the Prophecies, and in consequence became most firmly convinced that the Pope was the Antichrist predicted by Daniel, St. Paul, and St. John.

Under the influence of his beloved friend Richard Hurrell Froude, he explains later in the Apologia, he explains how his feelings toward Rome and Papacy changed, although his reasons for rejecting the "Church of Rome" and the Pope had not:

But now, as to the third point on which I stood in 1833, and which I have utterly renounced and trampled upon since,—my then view of the Church of Rome;—I will speak about it as exactly as I can. When I was young, as I have said already, and after I was grown up, I thought the Pope to be Antichrist. At Christmas 1824-5 I preached a Sermon to that effect. But in 1827 I accepted eagerly the stanza in the Christian Year, which many people thought too charitable. "Speak gently of thy sister's fall." From the time that I knew Froude I got less and less bitter on the subject. I spoke (successively, but I cannot tell in what order or at what dates) of the Roman Church as being bound up with "the cause of Antichrist," as being one of the "many antichrists" foretold by St. John, as being influenced by "the spirit of Antichrist," and as having something "very Antichristian" or "unchristian" about her. From my boyhood and in 1824 I considered, after Protestant authorities, that St. Gregory I. about A.D. 600 was the first Pope that was Antichrist, though, in spite of this, he was also a great and holy man; but in 1832-3 I thought the Church of Rome was bound up with the cause of Antichrist by the Council of Trent. When it was that in my deliberate judgment I gave up the notion altogether in any shape, that some special reproach was attached to her name, I cannot tell; but I had a shrinking from renouncing it, even when my reason so ordered me, from a sort of conscience or prejudice, I think up to 1843. Moreover, at least during the Tract Movement, I thought the essence of her offence to consist in the honours which she paid to the Blessed Virgin and the Saints; and the more I grew in devotion, both to the Saints and to our Lady, the more impatient was I at the Roman practices, as if those glorified creations of God must be gravely shocked, if pain could be theirs, at the undue veneration of which they were the objects.

On the other hand, Hurrell Froude in his familiar conversations was always tending to rub the idea out of my mind. . . .Moreover, from Froude I learned to admire the great medieval Pontiffs; and, of course, when I had come to consider the Council of Trent to be the turning-point of the history of Christian Rome, I found myself as free, as I was rejoiced, to speak in their praise. Then, when I was abroad, the sight of so many great places, venerable shrines, and noble churches, much impressed my imagination. And my heart was touched also. Making an expedition on foot across some wild country in Sicily, at six in the morning, I came upon a small church; I heard voices, and I looked in. It was crowded, and the congregation was singing. Of course it was the Mass, though I did not know it at the time. And, in my weary days at Palermo, I was not ungrateful for the comfort which I had received in frequenting the Churches; nor did I ever forget it. Then, again, her zealous maintenance of the doctrine and the rule of celibacy, which I recognized as Apostolic, and her faithful agreement with Antiquity in so many other points which were dear to me, was an argument as well as a plea in favour of the great Church of Rome. Thus I learned to have tender feelings towards her; but still my reason was not affected at all. My judgment was against her, when viewed as an institution, as truly as it ever had been.

As Newman was writing himself into the Catholic Church in his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, he noted signs among the Fathers of the Church that argued for Papal Supremacy or Primacy:

10. A partial fulfilment, or at least indications of what was to be, there certainly were in the first age. Faint one by one, at least they are various, and are found in writers of many times and countries, and thereby illustrative of each other, and forming a body of proof. Thus St. Clement, in the name of the Church of Rome, writes to the Corinthians, when they were without a bishop; St. Ignatius of Antioch addresses the Roman Church, out of the Churches to which he writes, as "the Church, which has in dignity the first seat, of the city of the Romans," [Note 27] and implies that it was too high for his directing as being the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul. St. Polycarp of Smyrna has recourse to the Bishop of Rome on the question of Easter; the heretic Marcion, excommunicated in Pontus, betakes himself to Rome; Soter, Bishop of Rome, sends alms, according to the custom of his Church, to the Churches throughout the empire, and, in the words of Eusebius, "affectionately exhorted those who came to Rome, as a father his children;" the Montanists from Phrygia come to Rome to gain the countenance of its Bishop; Praxeas, from Asia, attempts the like, and for a while is successful; St. Victor, Bishop of Rome, threatens to excommunicate the Asian Churches; St. Irenæus speaks of Rome as "the greatest Church, the most ancient, the most conspicuous, and founded and established by Peter and Paul," appeals to its tradition, not in contrast indeed, but in preference to that of other Churches, and declares that "to this Church, every Church, that is, the faithful from every side must resort" or "must agree with it, propter potiorem principalitatem." "O Church, happy in its position," says Tertullian, "into which the Apostles poured out, together with their blood, their whole doctrine;" and elsewhere, though in indignation and bitter mockery, he calls the Pope "the Pontifex Maximus, the Bishop of Bishops." The presbyters of St. Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria, complain of his doctrine to St. Dionysius of Rome; the latter expostulates with him, and he explains. The Emperor Aurelian leaves "to the Bishops of Italy and of Rome" the decision, whether or not Paul of Samosata shall be dispossessed of the see-house at Antioch; St. Cyprian speaks of Rome as "the See of Peter and the principal Church, whence the unity of the priesthood took its rise, whose faith has been commended by the Apostles, to whom faithlessness can have no access;" St. Stephen refuses to receive St. Cyprian's deputation, and separates himself from various Churches of the East; Fortunatus and Felix, deposed by St. Cyprian, have recourse to Rome; Basilides, deposed in Spain, betakes himself to Rome, and gains the ear of St. Stephen.

11. St. Cyprian had his quarrel with the Roman See, but it appears he allows to it the title of the "Cathedra Petri," and even Firmilian is a witness that Rome claimed it. In the fourth and fifth centuries this title and its logical results became prominent. Thus St. Julius (A.D. 342) remonstrated by letter with the Eusebian party for "proceeding on their own authority as they pleased," and then, as he says, "desiring to obtain our concurrence in their decisions, though we never condemned [Athanasius]. Not so have the constitutions of Paul, not so have the traditions of the Fathers directed; this is another form of procedure, a novel practice … For what we have received from the blessed Apostle Peter, that I signify to you; and I should not have written this, as deeming that these things are manifest unto all men, had not these proceedings so disturbed us." [Note 28] St. Athanasius, by preserving this protest, has given it his sanction. Moreover, it is referred to by Socrates; and his account of it has the more force, because he happens to be incorrect in the details, and therefore did not borrow it from St. Athanasius: "Julius wrote back," he says, "that they acted against the Canons, because they had not called him to the Council, the Ecclesiastical Canon commanding that the Churches ought not to make Canons beside the will of the Bishop of Rome." [Note 29] And Sozomen: "It was a sacerdotal law, to declare invalid whatever was transacted beside the will of the Bishop of the Romans." [Note 30] On the other hand, the heretics themselves, whom St. Julius withstands, are obliged to acknowledge that Rome was "the School of the Apostles and the Metropolis of orthodoxy from the beginning;" and two of their leaders (Western Bishops indeed) some years afterwards recanted their heresy before the Pope in terms of humble confession.

Remember that Newman wrote the Apologia pro Vita Sua in 1864, restoring his reputation for honesty and authenticity, especially regarding his conversion to Catholicism. Just a few years later, the prospect of the First Vatican Council taking up the issue of Papal Infallibility arose. Newman had some concerns about the timing and the purposes of the Ultramontane movement at that Council, the first held since the Council of Trent. From the paper I presented last week at the Florovsky-Newman week:

As a historian of the early Church and a student of the Fathers of the Church who had defended the orthodox doctrines decided at the early Church Councils, Newman was at first enthusiastic about the idea of a general council in 1867, according to Father Ian Ker. He thought there were many issues to discuss: the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, a new Code of Canon Law, relations with Eastern Churches, and even with the Anglo-Catholics, but he feared that the Infallibility of the Pope would also be considered and that the Ultramontane party “would push for” it and “be unscrupulous in doing so.”

As the Council dates and location were set: to convene on December 8, 1869 (the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which doctrine Pius IX had proclaimed in 1854) and be held in the Vatican Basilica (the last Councils held in Rome had convened at the Lateran Basilica, the popes’ church as the Bishop of Rome), Newman was surprised at the end of 1867 that Bishop Felix Dupanloup of Orléans (who was opposed to a definition of Papal Infallibility) wanted him to be his personal theologian at the Council; in October of 1868, he was even more surprised when Pope Pius IX (who was in favor of a definition of Papal Infallibility) had requested his presence as a theological consultor! Then Bishop Joseph Brown of Newport, who had delated Newman to Rome over The Rambler incident, asked him to be his personal theologian! He declined all three job offers and remained at the Oratory in Birmingham. Referring to the Fathers of the Church, he compared himself to saints “whose vocation [did] not lie in such ecclesiastical gatherings” like Gregory Nazianzen, John Chrysostom, and Basil. Although he admired them, he decided he was “too old to learn the ways of other great Saints” like Athanasius, Augustine, and Ambrose. Besides, he did not think the food in Rome would agree with him. 

As Father John W. O’Malley describes the situation at the Council in his book
Vatican I: The Council and the Making of the Ultramontane Church, Newman was right about the food. The accommodations, the weather, and the acoustics were bad too.

Newman received many letters from concerned converts and other Catholics. His advice was always to remain calm and pray. As he reminded himself and his correspondents, they had become Catholic because they believed “the present Roman Catholic Church is the only Church which is like, and it is very like, the primitive Church.”He recalled the phrase from St. Augustine: securus judicat orbis terrarum! and he relied upon the power of the Holy Spirit to keep the Church from any doctrinal error at a council. As Edward Short points out in 
Newman and His Contemporaries, he stressed to one of “his converts” when she threatened to leave the Church if Papal Infallibility was defined at the Council, “I say with [Robert] Cardinal Bellarmine whether the Pope be infallible or not in any pronouncement, anyhow he is to be obeyed. No good can come from disobedience . . .” He would make a similar comment in his Letter to the Duke of Norfolk. Newman did not think a decree of Papal Infallibility necessary or timely: he was an Inopportunist against the Ultramontanes.

More on Newman and Papal Infallibility on Monday!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Florovsky-Newman Week in Review

I attended almost all of the official events at the Eighth Day Institute's Florovsky-Newman Week from June 6 through 8, mostly held on the campus of Newman University, with excursions to Eighth Day Books, and a closing session at St. George's Cathedral. The topic was:

The Patristic View of Authority: Bible, Pope, or Conciliarity?

Co-sponsored by Eighth Day Institute and the Gerber Institute for Catholic Studies, the Florovsky-Newman Week promotes a “return to the sources for Christian unity.” Heeding Fr. Florovsky's advice, rather than simply overlooking differences, this conference seeks to overcome the different views of church authority. And we do so by returning to the common Tradition, by learning to read the Fathers as living masters, rather than as historical documents. Our hope is for you to deepen your understanding of the authority by which the Church grounds her faith and morals, examining authority from our respective traditions as Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant Christians. Join us for this unique event as we dive into the Church Fathers in order to explore, challenge, and encourage one another to better love God and neighbor.

The event began with a banquet, which Bishop Carl Kemme of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita attended. Erin Doom, Director of the Eighth Day Institute made his presentation: Ways of History: Return(ing) to the Fathers with Florovsky & Newman.

Thursday and Friday mornings were dedicated to academic papers: 12 were presented and I heard nine of them and presented one myself. Five papers were presented by Newman University students or graduates and two of those by seminarians in the Catholic Diocese of Wichita! Two faculty members (one professor and one adjunct) from Friends University; one Antiochian Orthodox priest; one Christian Reformed Church pastor, and one student at Concordia Theological Seminary preparing to be a pastor in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod--and one Mormon! The latter presentation was intriguing because the speaker had to admit up front that his church has rejected the Fathers of the Church outright because of its teaching on the Great Apostasy!

Before each Plenary session, Director Doom read from either Florovsky or Newman: first Florovsky on the Ascension, then Newman on the Ascension, and then Florovsky on Pentecost. (The Orthodox celebrated Ascension Thursday on June 6.)

The Protestant view of Authority in the Church was presented Thursday night by Father Geoffrey R. Boyle, a local Lutheran pastor and EDI member. His presentation emphasized Sola Scriptura of course in a specifically Lutheran way, based on the Lutheran Confessions and Congregations. The major question for him, especially posed by the speaker representing the Orthodox view of Authority in the Church, Professor Alexis Torrance, was why do you say Sola Scriptura when you admit that Scripture is NOT alone in your Lutheran beliefs? You have tradition and doctrine, etc, that have been interpreted from the Holy Bible and in fact you are relying on the ancient Church's decisions of what books are in that Holy Bible, which did not come with a table of contents. Father Boyle did not have a really good answer to that question, except to say that the Lutheran Church always appeals to the Holy Bible ultimately. Also, as he stressed that he was a Lutheran, not just a Protestant, his presentation begs the question of all the different Protestant views of the Holy Bible and authority, including the believer at home reading the Bible and making decisions/interpretations on his or her own, without a community or any tradition at all. Father Boyle's presentation was both pastoral and doctrinal, stressing the authority of the Church helping the Christian live to serve, love, and worship Jesus Our Savior.

The Catholic view of Authority in the Church was not presented Friday by Professor Adam DeVille (I've already informed Director Doom of my opinion of this presentation). He started out with a program of "structural and psychological reform" without ever explaining what he wanted to reform (except abuse). He never addressed the question of the conference to describe "the authority by which the [Catholic] Church grounds her faith and morals" but jumped right into what to do about the horrible McCarrick scandal, by which a serial abuser and harasser of seminarians and a young boy was raised through the ranks of the hierarchy to become a Cardinal, a prince of the Church! This is horrific indeed and Catholics are suffering a crisis of trust in our authorities, our bishops, the highest ranking bishops/cardinals in the USA, and even the pope (to some extent that means Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis--but especially the latter because it seems clear that Benedict tried to confront the scandal of a globe-trotting Cardinal abuser and Francis removed the restrictions Benedict had placed on McCarrick). But DeVille's answer was Oedipal: he referenced Freud and paternal projection/rejection. He mentioned but certainly did not want to address the Orthodox theologian John Zizioulas's call for a theological justification of Papal Primacy but I think thought it best to ignore it completely in the quest for a greater freedom in the Church in Christ, to "bear our freedom" without looking for a human authority (a father) on earth. In looking to the Fathers of the Church, he sought out the pre-Nicene Church before the bishops adopted the structures of the Roman Empire. 

Much that he said was thought-provoking but it assumed a knowledge and understanding of "the authority by which the [Catholic] Church grounds her faith and morals" that he never articulated. Director Doom has invited me and a friend of mine to write responses to this presentation and he wants to link this post to his Director's Letter to the membership. Professor Torrance, in providing an Orthodox response to this presentation, "took the bull by the horns" and read the chapter from Pastor Aeternus describing the great authority of the Papacy not by Infallibility but by Primacy to decide the discipline and government of the Catholic Church and how this is the great obstacle to East-West unity. There's the great issue we face; it's hard to go back to the Pre-Nicene days of the Church when Vatican I and Vatican II have documented this teaching on Papal Primacy.

Despite my misgivings about Professor DeVille's presentation, I want to read--and have already purchased from Eighth Day Books--his book Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy: Ut Unum Sint and the Prospects of East-West Unity from the University of Notre-Dame Press.

Professor Torrance presented the Orthodox view of Authority on Saturday after Ninth Hour Prayer in St. George's Cathedral. He explored Doctrine and Praxis through the Charismatic Structures of Authority (the Patriarchs and Bishops), Synodality and Councils, Scripture and Tradition. It was a comprehensive and elegant discourse. He highlighted the fact that the monks of Mount Athos consider Mary the Mother of God, the Theokotos to be their Abbess (no other woman is allowed there!)

The Florovsky-Newman Week closed with the thought that Orthodox, Catholics, and Protestants learn more about each other, how we think, how we use words, how we pray, worship, read the Bible, etc., every time we hold these meetings. Our prejudices and false images of each other are stripped away. We exchange ideas: we have not reached conclusions but we continue on the journey to achieve what Jesus wants: Ut Unim Sint (that they may be one as He and the Father are One). We have to continue until we reach that destination: until then we are failing Our Lord and Savior and we are failing in the world!