Saturday, November 30, 2019

Much Ado About the End of November

November 30th is an important day: it is the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, and thus the day to start the St. Andrew Christmas Novena, with this prayer said 15 (fifteen) times each day for 25 days:

Hail, and blessed be the hour and moment at which the Son of God was born of a most pure Virgin at a stable at midnight in Bethlehem in the piercing cold. At that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, to hear my prayers and grant my desires. (Mention your intentions here) Through Jesus Christ and His most Blessed Mother. Amen.

The prayer is all focused on the Nativity of Jesus (and doesn't even mention St. Andrew) and is named for the saint because we start praying it on his feast day!

As the Tudor Society explains, in 1554, the Feast of Saint Andrew was the date of the official reconciliation between England and the Catholic Church:

In Mary I's reign, 30th November became a day to celebrate the reconciliation of England and the papacy due to it being the anniversary of that reconciliation in 1554. On that day in 1554, Cardinal Reginald Pole, papal legate, announced to Parliament and the King and Queen:

“And we, by the apostolike authoritie given unto us by the most holie lord pope Julius the third […] do absolve and deliver you, and every of you, with the whole realm, and the dominions thereof, from all heresie and schism, and from all and every judgements, censures and pain for that cause incurred. And also wee do restore you againe to the unity of our mother the holie church [...]”

It was decreed that on 30th November every year “a solemn procession shall be held, in which not only the clergy of every place, but also the faithful members of Christ of the secular order, shall gather and renew the memory of so wonderful a blessing received from God... and that on the same day, in the church from which the procession shall set out, during the solemn rites of the mass, a sermon shall be preached to the people in which the reason for this solemnity shall be explained.”

In 1577, St. Cuthbert Mayne suffered martyrdom, found guilty of treason:

He was brought to trial in September; meanwhile his imprisonment was of the harshest order. His indictment under statutes of 1 and 13 Elizabeth was under five counts: first, that he had obtained from the Roman See a "faculty", containing absolution of the queen's subjects; second, that he had published the same at Golden; third, that he had taught the ecclesiastical authority of the pope in Launceston Gaol; fourth, that he had brought into the kingdom an Agnus Dei and had delivered the same to Mr. Tregian; fifth, that he had said Mass.

As to the first and second counts, the martyr showed that the supposed "faculty" was merely a copy printed at Douai of an announcement of the Jubilee of 1575, and that its application having expired with the end of the jubilee, he certainly had not published it either at Golden or elsewhere. As to the third count, he maintained that he had said nothing definite on the subject to the three illiterate witnesses who asserted the contrary. As to the fourth count, he urged that the fact that he was wearing an Agnus Dei at the time of his arrest was no evidence that he had brought it into the kingdom or delivered it to Mr. Tregian. As to the fifth count, he contended that the finding of a Missal, a chalice, and vestments in his room did not prove that he had said Mass.

Nevertheless the jury found him guilty of high treason on all counts, and he was sentenced accordingly. His execution was delayed because one of the judges, Jeffries, altered his mind after sentence and sent a report to the Privy Council. They submitted the case to the whole Bench of Judges, which was inclined to Jeffries's view. Nevertheless, for motives of policy, the Council ordered the execution to proceed. On the night of 27 November his cell was seen by the other prisoners to be full of a strange bright light. The details of his martyrdom must be sought in the works hereinafter cited. It is enough to say that all agree that he was insensible, or almost so, when he was disembowelled.

He is one of the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales.

In 1586/1587, Blessed Alexander Crow was hanged, drawn, and quartered in York. He was included among the 85 Martyrs of England and Wales beatified by Pope St. John Paul II in 1987.

In 1675, Cecilius Calvert, Second Lord Baltimore, "Absolute Lord of Maryland and Avalon" died in England. He had fulfilled his father's goal of establishing a colony in British America where Catholics could worship freely (and other Christians too!). The Catholic Encyclopedia entry for him emphasizes several difficulties in his endeavors:

It was Lord Baltimore's intention, at first to come to America with the colonists, but as there were many enemies of his colonial project at home, he concluded to send his brothers, Leonard and George, at the head of the expedition. The former was appointed governor. The enemies of the charter, chiefly members of the London Company, did everything in their power to defeat the objects of the proprietor. It was claimed that the charter interfered with the grant of land of the Virginia Company and that, owing to its liberality, it would attract people from other colonies and depopulate them. The arguments of the enemies of the charter were of no avail, and finally the colonists, numbering twenty gentlemen and about three hundred labourers, embarked on the Ark and the Dove, in the harbour of Cowes, Nov., 1633. Before sailing, Leonard received instructions for the government of the colonists. Religious toleration was the keynote of Baltimore's policy throughout his long career. In spite of the fact that the Catholics were persecuted when Calvert's government was overthrown, every time his authority was restored persecution ceased and every faith had equal rights. When the Puritans were persecuted in Massachusetts, Baltimore offered them a refuge in Maryland, with freedom of worship. . . .

His absence from the colony produced a peculiar condition, the absence of laws. The charter gave the proprietor the right to make laws with the advice and consent of the freemen. The latter met in 1634-35 and passed "wholesome laws and ordinances." Feeling that this act had infringed on his rights, in his commission to the governor, April, 1637, the proprietor expressed his disapproval of all laws passed by the colonists. For the endorsement of the assembly of 1637-38, he sent a body of laws with his secretary, John Lewger. These laws were rejected by the assembly, as they were considered unsuited to the colony. A few laws not differing materially from those sent by Baltimore were agreed to and sent to the proprietor for his consent. At first his approval was withheld, and the colony was without laws. Later, however, his sanction was given to the laws in a commission to the governor, authorizing him to give his assent to the laws made by the freemen, which would make the laws binding until they were either approved or rejected by the proprietor. With this commission the privilege of initiative in matters of legislation was conceded to the colonists, the proprietor retaining the right of absolute veto. As this power was never used by Baltimore except in extreme cases, the colonists practically enjoyed freedom in self-government. . . .

Cecilius Calvert ruled over the colony for nearly forty years. Although he never interfered with the administration of details, he ruled at every turn with an iron hand.

Saint Andrew the Apostle, pray for us!
Saint Cuthbert Mayne, pray for us!
Blessed Alexander Crow, pray for us!
And may Cecilius Calvert rest in peace!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Poland Is Well Worth a Mass, Too--One by Bach!

My brother and sister and I went to a free concert at Friends University Monday night (our late parents' wedding anniversary): the Flute Choir were performing works arranged or composed for the flute family: piccolo, c flute, alto and bass flute. Among the works performed was an aria from a secular cantata by J.S. Bach, BWV 206 Schleicht, spielende Wellen, und murmelt gelinde! (Glide, O sparkling waves and murmur softly!) Bach wrote it for the birthday of Augustus III, the Elector of Saxony and King of Poland. 

It's an allegorical representation of four rivers, the Vistula, Danube, Elbe, and Pleisse praising Augustus III for the peace and harmony his reign has brought. We heard an aria sung a soprano representing the Pleisse, with a very appropriate opening line for a flute choir concert:

Hört doch! der sanften Flöten Chor
Erfreut die Brust, ergötzt das Ohr.
    Der unzertrennten Eintracht Stärke
    Macht diese nette Harmonie
    Und tut noch größre Wunderwerke,
    Dies merkt und stimmt doch auch wie sie!

Hark now! The gentle flutes in choir
Make glad the breast and please the ear.
The undivided union's power
Creates this lovely harmony
And even greater works of wonder;
This mark and with their tune agree.

The soprano, who also played the piccolo and the c flute, sang the aria in German.

J.S. Bach hoped to be named a court composer to Frederick Augustus II of Saxony and in 1733 had sent the new Elector a Kyrie-Gloria Mass (which he would later incorporate into the Mass in B Minor)--and he had succeeded: Bach composed this secular cantata for performance on Augustus III's birthday in 1736. 

The Mad Monarchist blog gives some background on King Augustus III and his conversion from Lutheranism to Catholicism to succeed to the throne of Poland in 1534:

Augustus III was born on October 17, 1696 in Dresden in the Electorate of Saxony, a member of the House of Wettin which once reigned over many countries and still reigns today over Belgium, the United Kingdom and British Commonwealth Realms. His father was Augustus II, nicknamed “Augustus the Strong” who is today most remembered for his huge number of illegitimate children, some putting the number of his offspring in the hundreds. Augustus III, however, was his only legitimate son and would, like his father, one day become Prince-Elector of Saxony, Vicar of the Holy Roman Empire, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania. He was brought up for this purpose and, as his father had done earlier, this required his conversion to Catholicism in 1712. The Electors of Saxony had been Protestants all the way back to the days of Martin Luther and this caused considerable outrage among the Saxon aristocracy as well as an effort by Prussia and Hanover (whose Elector was also the British monarch [George I]) to deprive Saxony of its leadership of the Protestant caucus in the Reichstag (the princely upper house of the Imperial Diet or parliament of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation) but the Prussians and Hanoverians were unsuccessful.

In 1733 King Augustus II died and Augustus III succeeded his father as Prince-Elector of Saxony (as Friedrich Augustus II). His election as King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania was expected but not a forgone conclusion. For that, he would require foreign support. The Russians backed Augustus III as King of Poland, which was not too surprising but the Austrians did as well. Of course, the German Reich (HRE) as a whole did as well, which was also not surprising, favoring a German monarch on the Polish throne but the specific backing of the Austrians, which is to say the House of Habsburg, was a matter of political bargaining. The Habsburgs were anxious to secure their own position which was endangered by the fact that the last Emperor had only a daughter, Maria Theresa, to succeed him and tried everything from backroom deals to outright bribery to gain support for his “Pragmatic Sanction” by which the German princes pledged to support Maria Theresa.

The danger, of course, was that the German lands would fall into the same pattern of civil war and dynastic infighting which later befell Spain during the Carlist Wars in a similar situation. Augustus III agreed to support the Pragmatic Sanction and thus won the support of Emperor Charles VI for his election to the Polish throne. Likewise, his promise to support the Russian claim to Courland by the Empress Anna, ensured that he had Russian support for his election as well. It also helped that he had, in 1719, married Archduchess Maria Josepha of Austria, daughter of Emperor Joseph I which also helped win over the Habsburgs. On October 5, 1733 the Polish electors gathered and Augustus III was elected King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania. However, he was still faced with a problem as there was already a King of Poland to deal with and a Polish one at that in the person of Stanislaw Leszczynski (King Stanislaus I). He had widespread support in Poland and had fought Augustus II for control of the country. When Augustus II died, he returned with French support to reassert his rule. The Russians and Austrians feared an alliance between the French, Poles and Swedes and so backed Augustus III against him.

Please read the rest there.

A performance of Bach's BWV 206 is available here.

Image credit: King Augustus III by Pietro Rotari.

You just never know what attending a concert may inspire: an exploration of history, music, and conversion in this case!

Monday, November 25, 2019

A Delayed Coronation: Elizabeth of York

Henry VII delayed not only his wedding to Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV, until after his coronation (on October 30, 1485), but also her coronation. They were married on January 18, 1486 and she was crowned on November 25, 1487 after their first son and heir, Prince Arthur was born on September 20, 1486. Her coronation may have been delayed but it was appropriately celebrated, according to the Memoir of Elizabeth York in Privy purse expenses of Elizabeth of York: wardrobe accounts of Edward the Fourth, With a memoir of Elizabeth of York edited by Nicholas Harris Nicolas. The ceremonies began on November 23 and continued with her procession from the Tower of London to Westminster on November 24:

On Friday, the 23rd, the Queen left Greenwich by water for her coronation, of which a very interesting narrative is extant [from John Leland]. Arrayed in the robes of royalty, she was accompanied by the Countess of Richmond, her mother-in-law, and by an extensive retinue of peers and peeresses, and was escorted by the Lord-mayor, sheriffs, and aldermen of London. Each Company furnished elegant barges, decorated with silk banners and streamers, richly emblazoned with the arms and badges, and rowed by men dressed in the proper liveries, of the respective crafts. Amidst the various objects of attraction, the Bachelor's barge claimed particular notice for its superior splendour, and from its carrying a red dragon, the ensign of the house of Tudor, which spouted fire into the Thames. Music of all kinds lent its aid to enliven the scene, and, thus attended, her Majesty arrived at the Tower. As she entered it, she was received by the King in the most gracious manner, or, to use the words of the narrator himself, "the King's highness welcomed her in such manner and form, as was to all the estates and others there being present a very good sight, and right joyous and comfortable to behold." Eleven Knights of the Bath were then created; and on the next day, after dinner, her Majesty being "royally apparelled, in a kirtle of white cloth of gold of damask, and a mantle of the same suit, furred with ermine, fastened before her breast with a great lace, curiously wrought of gold and silk, and rich knobs of gold at the end, tasselled; her fair yellow hair hanging down plain behind her back, with a call of pipes over it, and wearing on her head a circle of gold, richly garnished with precious stones," quitted her chamber of state. Her train was borne by her sister, the Lady Cecily, and being attended by a great retinue of lords, ladies, and others, she entered her litter, in which she was conveyed to Westminster.

On November 25, her coronation as Queen Consort took place:

The next morning she was arrayed in a kirtle and mantle of purple velvet, furred with ermine laced in front, and wore in her hair a circle of gold richly set with pearls and other jewels. In this dress, she proceeded to Westminster Hall, where she remained under a canopy of state until the procession was ready. From the place where she stood to the pulpit in the Abbey the ground was covered with new ray cloth, and the struggle of the crowd to cut it to pieces after she passed was extremely great. The Earl of Arundel bore the staff with the dove, the Duke of Suffolk the sceptre, and the Duke of Bedford, who was bareheaded, the crown. On one side, her Majesty was supported by the Bishop of Winchester, and on the other, by the Bishop of Ely, and she was immediately followed by the Princess Cecily, who held her train. In this order she entered the west door of Westminster Abbey, and took her seat near the pulpit, when the usual ceremonies were performed; after which she returned to the Palace at Westminster. The King was a spectator from a handsome latticed stage, between the pulpit and the high altar, where also stood his mother, and many other ladies of rank.

Notice that there's no description of "the usual ceremonies"! This blog provides some information, based upon the last coronation of a Queen Consort performed in England on May 12, 1937, when King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, the present Queen Elizabeth II's parents, were crowned:

Once the King receives the Sovereign’s Ring, the Sceptre and the Rod, the Archbishop places St Edward’s Crown on the Sovereign’s head and prayers start. If there is a Queen Consort, she is crowned at this point in a very simple ceremony immediately before homage is paid: the Queen is Crowned and anointed under the same canopy which was used for the King. Just like the King, the Queen Consort also has her Crown (typically, a new one made for her) and the Coronation Ring (the Consort’s Ring). Once the short ceremony is over, the Communion interrupted earlier is resumed and completed.

That coronation took place in the context of the King Regnant's ceremony, however. King Henry VIII had Anne Boleyn crowned as Queen Consort on June 1, 1533 but this description is rather lacking in detail too:

She prostrated herself before the High Altar, then, once more on her feet, received the Crown of St Edward, the rod and the sceptre, from the Archbishop of Canterbury. A Te Deum was sung, before Anne returned to preside over the extravagant coronation feast at Westminster Hall.

Like his father, Henry VIII waited until Anne was delivered of a baby who seemed likely to survive (the Princess Elizabeth) before crowning her. The changes that had taken place in England between 1487 and 1533 are remarkable, however, especially in religious practice and context.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Two New Oratories in England

Last weekend at the Spiritual Life Center I mentioned how the Oratory movement that St. John Henry Newman had brought to England was flourishing as a new Oratory, in Manchester, had just been approved by Pope Francis. The Catholic Herald provided this update:

Less than a month after the canonisation of St John Henry Newman, England is to get its fourth oratory.

Pope Francis signed a decree on November 1, the Solemnity of All Saints, formally erecting the Manchester Oratory at St Chad’s parish in the Diocese of Salford.

The Oratorian community, which has been in formation in Manchester since 1992, will also oversee a prison and a hospital chaplaincy, as well as a Catholic primary school.

So that was the fourth Oratory. Please note that the fathers and brothers of the Manchester Oratory appear to have the assistance of Norfolk Terrier and a Border Terrier (scroll down to see the third picture on this post)!

Not long after that Oratory of St. Philip Neri was approved, another announcement, this time from York, on November 19:

It was announced today in Rome that our Holy Father Pope Francis has erected the Oratory-in-Formation in York as an independent Oratory of St Philip Neri. The decree of foundation is dated 9th November 2019, the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica.

The York Oratory is the second Oratory to be founded in England in the last month with news of the Manchester Oratory coming at the beginning of November. There are now five Oratories in England, at Birmingham, London, Oxford, Manchester and York. There are Oratories-in-Formation in Cardiff and Bournemouth.

This news comes only a little more than a month since Pope Francis canonised St John Henry Newman who brought the Oratory of St Philip from Rome to Birmingham and London in 1848.

The York Oratory will also care for the shrine of St. Margaret Clitherow in York.

The website for the Oratory in Cincinnati, Ohio provides some information about why Pope Francis approved the formation of these new oratories:

The Congregation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri is a “society of Apostolic life” founded under the guidance of the Confederation of the Oratory (based in Rome) and with the permission of the local Ordinary. The definitive foundation of an Oratorian Congregation is actually done by the Roman Pontiff directly, which makes a Congregation what is called a “Pontifical Right” foundation. An Oratory provides an opportunity for priests to live their vocation in a more structured community than what is typically experienced by diocesan priests, but with more flexibility than a religious order. Above all, it is a community of charity in the spirit of St. Philip Neri, the “Joyful Saint”.

The Oratorian resides in an Oratory community of his choosing and is permanently stable, i.e., he is not subject to transfer to other Oratories or communities. Nor does he take the vows of poverty, chastity or obedience, though the Oratorian seeks these perfections through voluntary observance.

The Oratorian vocation allows greater flexibility in pastoral work than a religious order and allows the priest to live in the same community without being periodically transferred by the local bishop. It is possible for an Oratorian to take up additional apostolates, or change his apostolate, at his own initiative and the discretion of the Oratory community, always guided by the local Ordinary. Oratorians are involved in ministries as diverse as schools, hospitals, prisons, university chaplaincies, seminary teaching, and work in curial offices in Rome. They also serve in traditional parish ministries.

Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!*
Saint Philip Neri, pray for us!
Saint John Henry Newman, pray for us!
Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, pray for us!**
Saint Chad, pray for us!
Saint Wilfrid, pray for us!
Saint Margaret Clitherow, pray for us!

*The London/Brompton Oratory is dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
**The Oxford Oratory, having previously been a Jesuit parish, is dedicated to St. Aloysius

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

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