Monday, April 27, 2020

This Morning: "Keeping Fast and Festival" (Turn, Turn, Turn)

As promised, I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show with Matt Swaim at about 7:50 a.m. Eastern/6:50 a.m. Central to talk about St. John Henry Newman's PPS (Parochial and Plain Sermon) for Easter Sunday 1838, "Keeping Fast and Festival".

Please listen live here; the podcast will be archived here.

After reading and discussing eight of Newman's Anglican sermons, I think we can see his homiletic and rhetorical pattern. He always begins with a line from scripture as his inspiration for the topic he has chosen to present but he goes well beyond a simple exegesis of that quotation. For instance, in today's sermon, he chose the same line Pete Seeger/The Byrds chose: "A time to weep, and a time to laugh: a time to mourn, and a time to dance." Eccles. iii. 4. Instead of offering an explanation of the rest of that biblical passage, Newman goes on to explain what it means to Christians in the context of Easter celebrations.

He notes how the celebrations of Christmas and Easter are different--not so much liturgically but emotionally--Christmas is a warm, simple, family festive time, with many traditions, particular and universal. Easter is a deeper, richer, and even subdued celebration because the Resurrection comes after Good Friday. Good Friday and all that Jesus suffered that day are still on our minds even as we read the Gospel passages describing how St. Mary Magdalen and the Apostles discovered that Jesus had risen from the dead: slowly, tentatively, and finally, joyfully. 

Then Newman explores the meaning of King Solomon's admonition to either fast (weep and mourn) or feast (laugh and dance) at the right times and in the right order. He condemns the way that the World and even some Christians fail to observe this order and deplores what it means for their celebration of Easter and the Resurrection: it will be superficial and lacking true religious feeling or there will be no religious feeling at all (no thought of Heaven or the life to come).

Continuing this explication of Fasting in Lent and Feasting in Easter, Newman explains how even in feasting, the Christian spirit is different than the World's: it is more subdued. And Newman states that it is right that it is:
This too must be said concerning the connexion of Fasts and Feasts in our religious service, viz., that that sobriety in feasting which previous fasting causes, is itself much to be prized, and especially worth securing. For in this does Christian mirth differ from worldly, that it is subdued; and how shall it be subdued except that the past keeps its hold upon us, and while it warns and sobers us, actually indisposes and tames our flesh against indulgence?
Then Newman explores the events of the Day of Resurrection and all the witnesses of Christ's Resurrection, holding St. Mary Magdalen, the Apostles, and the Blessed Virgin, holding them all up as models for our own response to that great day and the days that followed.

Finally, he delivers his exhortation to his congregation: how to live out this pattern of Easter Feasting after Lenten Fasting through their daily duties.

He exhorts them to find a balance between this world and the next, reconciling what seem to be opposites:
May we partake in such calm and heavenly joy; and, while we pray for it, recollecting the while that we are still on earth, and our duties in this world, let us never forget that, while our love must be silent, our faith must be vigorous and lively. Let us never forget that in proportion as our love is "rooted and grounded" in the next world, our faith must branch forth like a fruitful tree into this. The calmer our hearts, the more active be our lives; the more tranquil we are, the more busy; the more resigned, the more zealous; the more unruffled, the more fervent.
Newman reminds them that Christ has triumphed over sin and death so that they may also:
There is nothing impossible to us now, if we do but enter into the fulness of our privileges, the wondrous power of our gifts. The thing cannot be named in heaven or earth within the limits of truth and obedience which we cannot do through Christ; the petition cannot be named which may not be accorded to us for His Name's sake. For, we who have risen with Him from the grave, stand in His might, and are allowed to use His weapons. His infinite influence with the Father is ours,—not always to use, for perhaps in this or that effort we make, or petition we prefer, it would not be good for us; but so far ours, so fully ours, that when we ask and do things according to His will, we are really possessed of a power with God, and do prevail . . . so let us believe with full persuasion that all that He has bequeathed to us has power from Him. 
(In this paragraph, Newman also explores the seeming contradiction between what Christ has done--and what the Christian can do because of it--and how all this greatness comes from small beginnings and a means of salvation and redemption no one would ever expect.)

Even as he urges them to follow Jesus as obedient disciples, Newman reminds them of the realities of suffering, torture, mockery, salvation, and triumph, demonstrating again the connections between Fasting and Feasting, even in the Easter Season: 
Let us accept His Ordinances, and His Creed, and His precepts; and let us stand upright with an undaunted faith, resolute, with faces like flint, to serve Him in and through them; to inflict them upon the world without misgiving, without wavering, without anxiety; being sure that He who saved us from hell through a Body of flesh which the world insulted, tortured, and triumphed over, much more can now apply the benefits of His passion through Ordinances which the world has lacerated and now mocks.
His last words in this sermon once more balance opposites (rest and activity) as he describes the cycle of the Christian liturgical year as a reminder of all that God has done and does for us:
This then, my brethren, be our spirit on this day. God rested from His labours on the seventh day, yet He worketh evermore. Christ entered into His rest, yet He too ever works. We too, if it may be said, in adoring and lowly imitation of what is infinite, while we rest in Christ and rejoice in His shadow, let us too beware of sloth and cowardice, but serve Him with steadfast eyes yet active hands; that we may be truly His in our hearts, as we were made His by Baptism,—as we are made His continually, by the recurring celebration of His purifying Fasts and holy Feasts.
Thus Newman has maintained a tension between fasting and feasting, weeping and laughing, mourning and dancing, resting and acting, being strong and being weak, etc., throughout the sermon, even as he describes the lasting reality of things that happened long ago and yet happen now and happen every year and happen every day. 

Image Credit: Resurrection of Christ, Noël Coypel, 1700, using a hovering depiction of Jesus

Friday, April 24, 2020

Preview: "Keeping Fast and Festival" in the Easter Season

Or: weeping and laughing; mourning and dancing when the times are right! (Ecclesiastes 3:4)

On Monday, April 27, Matt Swaim, co-host of the Son Rise Morning Show, and I will discuss another Parochial and Plain Sermon by St. John Henry Newman for the Easter Season. It's another sermon he gave on an Easter Sunday, April 15, 1838, "Keeping Fast and Festival", published in Volume IV of his collected Anglican sermons.

Newman had been the Vicar of the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Oxford since 1828 and a leader of the Oxford Movement since 1833. In 1838 he became the editor of The British Critic, the High Church conservative journal that became, during his control, a vehicle for Tractarian Movement ideas. His influence was rising in the Church of England, but in a year he would begin to have doubts about the Via Media he had been trying to foster.

But on this Easter Sunday in 1838, Newman was rejoicing in the Resurrection of Christ and describing the special manner of that celebration to his congregation--comparing it, for instance, to how we celebrate Christmas:

AT Christmas we joy with the natural, unmixed joy of children, but at Easter our joy is highly wrought and refined in its character. It is not the spontaneous and inartificial outbreak which the news of Redemption might occasion, but it is thoughtful; it has a long history before it, and has run through a long course of feelings before it becomes what it is. It is a last feeling and not a first. St. Paul describes its nature and its formation, when he says, "Tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope; and hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." [Rom. v. 3-5.] And the prophet Isaiah, when he says, "They joy before Thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil." [Isa. ix. 3.] Or as it was fulfilled in the case of our Lord Himself, who, as being the Captain of our salvation, was made perfect through sufferings. Accordingly, Christmas Day is ushered in with a time of awful expectation only, but Easter Day with the long fast of Lent, and the rigours of the Holy Week just past: and it springs out and (as it were) is born of Good Friday.

On such a day, then, from the very intensity of joy which Christians ought to feel, and the trial which they have gone through, they will often be disposed to say little. Rather, like sick people convalescent, when the crisis is past, the illness over, but strength not yet come, they will go forth to the light of day and the freshness of the air, and silently sit down with great delight under the shadow of that Tree, whose fruit is sweet to their taste. They are disposed rather to muse and be at peace, than to use many words; for their joy has been so much the child of sorrow, is of so transmuted and complex a nature, so bound up with painful memories and sad associations, that though it is a joy only the greater from the contrast, it is not, cannot be, as if it had never been sorrow.

Having prepared with fasting, almsgiving, and prayer in Lent and having remembered Christ's Passion in Holy Week at least the Christian is ready to celebrate Easter, in contrast to the unbelieving world and even some nominal Christians:

And yet, though the long season of sorrow which ushers in this Blessed Day, in some sense sobers and quells the keenness of our enjoyment, yet without such preparatory season, let us be sure we shall not rejoice at all. None rejoice in Easter-tide less than those who have not grieved in Lent. This is what is seen in the world at large. To them, one season is the same as another, and they take no account of any. Feast-day and fast-day, holy tide and other tide, are one and the same to them. Hence they do not realize the next world at all. To them the Gospels are but like another history; a course of events which took place eighteen hundred years since. They do not make our Saviour's life and death present to them: they do not transport themselves back to the time of His sojourn on earth. They do not act over again, and celebrate His history, in their own observance; and the consequence is, that they feel no interest in it. They have neither faith nor love towards it; it has no hold on them. They do not form their estimate of things upon it; they do not hold it as a sort of practical principle in their heart. This is the case not only with the world at large, but too often with men who have the Name of Christ in their mouths. They think they believe in Him, yet when trial comes, or in the daily conduct of life, they are unable to act upon the principles which they profess: and why? because they have thought to dispense with the religious Ordinances, the course of Service, and the round of Sacred Seasons of the Church, and have considered it a simpler and more spiritual religion, not to act religiously except when called to it by extraordinary trial or temptation; because they have thought that, since it is the Christian's duty to rejoice evermore, they would rejoice better if they never sorrowed and never travailed with righteousness. On the contrary, let us be sure that, as previous humiliation sobers our joy, it alone secures it to us. Our Saviour says, "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall he comforted;" and what is true hereafter, is true here. Unless we have mourned, in the weeks that are gone, we shall not rejoice in the season now commencing. It is often said, and truly, that providential affliction brings a man nearer to God. What is the observance of Holy Seasons but such a means of grace?

"Hence they do not realize the next world at all."--that's a line to meditate on. If we don't remember the events of our salvation, events that took place in time here on earth, we won't be fully aware of the life to come and want to gain it (both are meanings of the verb "to realize"). 

When people just treat the events of Christ's Passion, Death, and Resurrection as historical events--gone and past--they cannot enter into their liturgical meaning and celebration, their anamnesis, being present with us today.

Newman says what many of us observe in the world: we have it backwards most of the time:

In the world feasting comes first and fasting afterwards; men first glut themselves, and then loathe their excesses; they take their fill of good, and then suffer; they are rich that they may be poor; they laugh that they may weep; they rise that they may fall.

The Church, he reminds us, shows the right way to observe the times of fasting and feasting:

But in the Church of God it is reversed; the poor shall be rich, the lowly shall be exalted, those that sow in tears shall reap in joy, those that mourn shall be comforted, those that suffer with Christ shall reign with Him; even as Christ (in our Church's words) "went not up to joy, but first He suffered pain. He entered not into His glory before He was crucified. So truly our way to eternal joy is to suffer here with Christ, and our door to enter into eternal life is gladly to die with Christ, that we may rise again from death, and dwell with him in everlasting life." [quoting from prayers for the "Visitation of the Sick" in the Book of Common Prayer] And what is true of the general course of our redemption is, I say, fulfilled also in the yearly and other commemorations of it. Our Festivals are preceded by humiliation, that we may keep them duly; not boisterously or fanatically, but in a refined, subdued, chastised spirit, which is the true rejoicing in the Lord.

Looking to the Gospel passages that describe the Resurrection and the reaction of the women at the Tomb and the Apostles when Jesus appears to them, Newman sees a model for our own rejoicing:

In such a spirit let us endeavour to celebrate this most holy of all Festivals, this continued festal Season, which lasts for fifty days, whereas Lent is forty, as if to show that where sin abounded, there much more has grace abounded. Such indeed seems the tone of mind which took possession of the Apostles when certified of the Resurrection; and while they waited for, or when they had the sight of their risen Lord. If we consider, we shall find the accounts of that season in the Gospels, marked with much of pensiveness and tender and joyful melancholy; the sweet and pleasant frame of those who have gone through pain, and out of pain receive pleasure. . . . 

And he makes reference to other mysteries during the forty days between Resurrection and Ascension:

And here perhaps we learn a lesson from the deep silence which Scripture observes concerning the Blessed Virgin [Note 3] after the Resurrection; as if she, who was too pure and holy a flower to be more than seen here on earth, even during the season of her Son's humiliation, was altogether drawn by the Angels within the veil on His Resurrection, and had her joy in Paradise with Gabriel who had been the first to honour her, and with those elder Saints who arose after the Resurrection, appeared in the Holy City, and then vanished away.

Note 3 refers to John Keble's poem for the Fourth Sunday of Lent (Laetare Sunday) in The Christian Year, I presume this stanza:

As when the holy Maid beheld
Her risen Son and Lord:
Thought has not colours half so fair
That she to paint that hour may dare,
In silence best adored.

We can see that Newman--and Keble--wanted to realize the world to come.

Image Credit: Guercino, Apparition of Christ to the Virgin, 1628-1630

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Book Review, Part II: John Henry Newman on Truth and Its Counterfeits

As I noted in my first post, I'm continuing my review of Professor Reinhard Hutter's new book from the Catholic University of America Press, John Henry Newman on Truth and Its Counterfeits: A Guide for Our Times. I thought it would be just too long a post otherwise, especially since I am including a detailed table of contents, including the subheads from each chapter. In my post on Saturday, April 18, I offered my comments on the Prologue, Chapter 1 on Conscience and Its Counterfeits, and Chapter 2 on Faith and Its Counterfeits, so now I'll pick up with comments on Chapters 3 and 4 and the Epilogue and then offer my overall review and comments on this book.

I like the cover of the book: the designer has adapted a photograph of Newman the National Institute for Newman Studies identifies as being taken  in 1888 (and published in a book titled Cardinal Newman by William Barry). The photograph may have been flopped (Newman is facing left in the NINS portrait) and color has been added subtly to his face and hair and to the outer garment Newman is wearing (red). That is also the portrait of Newman that Scepter Publishers and I selected for the cover of Supremacy and Survival: How Catholics Endured the English Reformation with Newman facing Henry VIII, although their designer cropped it differently and left it in black and white:

It is also the portrait chosen by Oxford University Press for the 2019 reissued edition of Father Ian Ker's great biography of Newman, with different color choices (red for his cassock and zucchetto):

But enough about the cover: on to the rest of contents!

Chapter 3. The Development of Doctrine and Its Counterfeits
*Development of Doctrine: The Voice of the Magisterium
*How Is an Authentic Development of Doctrine to be Discerned?
*Newman's Seven Notes of an Authentic Development of Doctrine
*A Test Case of Authentic Development of Doctrine: "Dignitatis Humanae"
*Conclusion: Two Counterfeits of the Authentic Development of Doctrine
*Appendix: Francisco Marin-Sola's Thomist Reception of Newman

Hutter begins this chapter (pp. 130-131) with a great explication of Newman's famous sentence, "To be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant" as he concludes that the history Newman is speaking of is salvation history, the "unfolding truth of the divine Word" which the Catholic Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, continuously passes on. Thus "to be deep in history in this precise sense of salvation history means to be deep in the [Catholic] Church."

Hutter then examines "the voice of the recent magisterium to ascertain its teaching on the development of doctrine", citing Dei Filius from the First Vatican Council and Dei Verbum from the Second, reviews Newman's seven notes from the Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, and then provides a test case.

Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about this chapter is how Professor Hutter submits his argument to Father Ian Ker's chapter 2, "The Hermeneutic of Change in Continuity" in Newman on Vatican II in developing his test case of whether or not the Declaration on Religious Freedom, Dignitatis Humanae, is an authentic development of doctrine. I think it's worth quoting his footnote in which he says he abstains "from the academic temptation to be original" and "rather gratefully" relies "on Ker's astute analysis and argumentation" because it "strikes [him] as just right" (note 36, page 146). Then Hutter goes on to use pages 65-71 of Father Ker's book, demonstrating how Dignitatis Humanae, magisterially affirmed at the Second Vatican Council, passes the test of Newman's seven notes of true development of doctrine--which is not a matter of private judgment or sovereign self-determination. He also comments on the dangers of both ecclesial antiquarianism and presentism: neither a static past nor a progressive future fulfill the Church's mandate to teach the Gospel and hand on the Tradition. Hutter brings in a connection to St. Thomas Aquinas in the Appendix to this chapter as he explores the work of Dom Francisco Marin-Sola, OP, and his work on the development of Christian doctrine in The Homogeneous Evolution of Catholic Dogma, a neglected work.

Chapter 4. The University and Its Counterfeit
*University Education and (Natural) Theology as a Science
*The Indispensability of (Natural) Theology for University Education
*Becoming a Master of the Twofold "Logos", Thought and Word
*A Pragmatic Postscript
*Appendix: Metaphysics and Natural Theology

I have been reading and studying Newman's The Idea of a University since I first discovered Newman in 1979 while attending Wichita State University as sophomore pursuing a B.A. in English Language and Literature, knowing then that I could not receive the fullness of a liberal arts, university education at that institution as it was willing and able to instruct me. As a few of the students at the Newman Center who were enrolled in the Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and I realized, we were going to have to seek other sources for that fullness of education, unfortunately rather unsystematically.

Based upon his extensive experience at colleges and universities as a student and professor, Hutter also has a great respect for the idea and ideal Newman presents in these lectures while knowing that many of those institutions he's familiar with have not achieved the goals of a fully integrated university education. He calls most of the colleges and universities that exist today "polytechnical" institutions, without a unity of purpose beyond the sports team and making money. He mocks derisively those colleges who add a few master degree programs so they may claim the title university without approaching universal knowledge at all! They become polytechnical, hyperpluralistic institutions on a smaller scale.

Once again fulfilling his thesis that Newman is "A Guide for Our Times", Hutter demonstrates how Newman anticipated the decline of university education since he saw signs of great errors based upon private judgment and the sovereign subject: "authority, tradition, habit, moral instinct, and the divine influences" were being rejected in the nineteenth century; "patience of thought, and depth and consistency of view" were mocked, while "free discussion and fallible judgment [were] prized as the birthright of each individual." Newman knew he was already fighting a battle he might lose when he founded the Catholic University of Ireland in Dublin (although he lost it for a different reason) as a bulwark against the secularized, liberalized, utilitarian university of his own time. Newman traced that polytechnical ideal to Francis Bacon, using higher education for material and social desires, not the fulfillment the human person through understanding his relationship to his Creator through natural theology and a philosophical habit of mind. That's why Theology must be a subject at a true university, not "religious studies", "the Bible as literature" or a survey course on world religions.

Newman saw that "the human being was being eliminated as a subject worthy of study"; Hutter sees now that we have "transhumanist outlook" as the liberal eugenicists today demand the freedom to design human beings, changing or enhancing "properties of one's own nature (intelligence, gender, emotions, body features, etc) with the assistance of biotechnology."

One of passages that affected me most, as I reflected on my incomplete education, was Hutter's substantial quotation of the Trappist monk Dom Eugene Boylan's This Tremendous Lover. In 1946 Boylan "made a keen observation about an emerging problem in the intellectual life that has only escalated since then": the use of imagination instead of abstract, metaphysical thought, substituting what might be for what is; non-being for Being. Boylan identified the results as false substitutions are made in thought and discourse:
  • sentiment in principle for [instead of] argument
  • particular for the general in argument
  • metaphor in place of reality
  • opinion for certainty
  • prejudice for judgment
  • quantity for quality
  • matter for the ultimate reality
Even though I attended Catholic elementary and secondary schools, I received--in the late sixties and seventies--an education based on imagination and not abstract, metaphysical thought. Combined with the weak catechesis of that era, I might quote Paul Simon to say that "it's a wonder I can think at all"! except that I did discover John Henry Newman in 1979--receiving some good orientation and guidance--and did study the Catechism of the Catholic Church in the early nineties, married a good man, made good friends, and kept reading and studying Newman's life and works, thank God.

Epilogue: A Newmanian Theological Journey into the Catholic Church
*Moral Theology
*Justification, Church, and Eucharist
*Encountering Mother Church

The epilogue is Hutter's conversion story from Lutheranism to Catholicism. In the context of the book, it demonstrates how he recognized that even teaching morality in a Lutheran seminary led him to base his instructor on his own private judgment and as a sovereign subject. There was no authority to guide him or his students or even his ecclesial community--not even Martin Luther himself! Even believing in the Real Presence of Jesus in Holy Communion could not result in any reverence for the matter of Holy Communion, as crumbs and bits of the Body of Christ were treated like mere bread, unless the pastor of a certain parish cared. Hutter notes the great influence of Pope St. John Paul II's encyclicals, Veritatis Splendor, Evangelium Vitae, and Ecclesia de Eucharistia. It's a great conversion story and a fitting end to the book as it demonstrates again Newman's influence today.

Selected Bibliography
Index of Names
General Index

The bibliography is excellent, and the footnotes, as I mentioned, are important to read. I recommend the book to anyone who is interested in the influence of Newman's teachings and writings on conscience, faith, ecclesiology and the Church's magisterium, and the idea of a university. I enjoyed and benefited from "hearing" Professor Hutter's voice of reason and experience throughout his discussion of these important subjects. It's a book I've had a hard time putting down even after I read the last word.

Monday, April 20, 2020

This Morning: "Christ, A Quickening Spirit" and the Church

As promised, I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show with Anna Mitchell at about 7:50 a.m. Eastern/6:50 a.m. Central to talk about St. John Henry Newman's PPS (Parochial and Plain Sermon) for Easter Sunday 1831, "Christ, A Quickening Spirit".

Please listen live here; the podcast will be archived here.

The quotation that Newman cited as the inspiration for this sermon is "Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen." Luke xxiv. 5, 6.

In the conclusion to this sermon, Newman urges his congregation to take action. As he has reminded them of how Jesus has left them the Blessed Sacrament as a continuing Presence after His Ascension, so Newman also reminds them that Jesus left them His Church, founded upon the Rock of St. Peter ("Simon Peter the favoured Apostle, on whom the Church is built"):

He has appeared to His Holy Church first of all, and in the Church He dispenses blessings, such as the world knows not of. Blessed are they if they knew their blessedness, who are allowed, as we are, week after week, and Festival after Festival, to seek and find in that Holy Church the Saviour of their souls! Blessed are they beyond language or thought, to whom it is vouchsafed to receive those tokens of His love, which cannot otherwise be gained by man, the pledges and means of His special presence, in the Sacrament of His Supper; who are allowed to eat and drink the food of immortality, and receive life from the bleeding side of the Son of God! 

As usual, Newman reminds them that there are Christians, those who consider themselves followers of Jesus, who yet reject His Church:

Alas! by what strange coldness of heart, or perverse superstition is it, that any one called Christian keeps away from that heavenly ordinance? Is it not very grievous that there should be any one who fears to share in the greatest conceivable blessing which could come upon sinful men? What in truth is that fear, but unbelief, a slavish sin-loving obstinacy, if it leads a man to go year after year without the spiritual sustenance which God has provided for him? Is it wonderful that, as time goes on, he should learn deliberately to doubt of the grace therein given? that he should no longer look upon the Lord's Supper as a heavenly feast, or the Lord's Minister who consecrates it as a chosen vessel, or that Holy Church in which he ministers as a Divine Ordinance, to be cherished as the parting legacy of Christ to a sinful world? Is it wonderful that seeing he sees not, and hearing he hears not; and that, lightly regarding all the gifts of Christ, he feels no reverence for the treasure-house wherein they are stored?

So he concludes with a final exhortation for his congregation that morning in the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin to remain faithful to God's will and His Church in spite of any trial or trouble, mockery or rebuke, and to persevere.

St. John Henry Newman had been born and raised in a Church of England family; he was seeking the True Church that Jesus had founded and as part of the Tractarian movement that began just a couple of years after he preached this Easter Sunday sermon, he had sought a way to see that Church of England as a branch of the "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church". When he began to see that the Via Media he and Pusey and Keble were trying to establish only worked on paper and did not exist in the Church of England at all, he again had to search until he found the One True Church: the Catholic Church. And as he wrote in the Apologia pro Vita Sua, after becoming a Catholic he did not need to contend by himself to find the Truth and convince himself of it; he had heard the living, quickening oracle of God in the Church Jesus 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. . . .

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. . . .

St. John Henry Newman, pray for us!

Image Credit: Altobello Melone – The Road to Emmaus, c. 1516-17

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Quasimodo Sunday

Today is Easter Sunday for Orthodox Christians! Christos Anesti; Alithos Anesti!

In the Ordinary Form for Latin Rite Catholics, today is Divine Mercy Sunday, the Second Sunday of Easter, the Octave Day of Easter. Each day this past week has been another Easter Day, and each day was a Feast with the Gloria chanted or recited.

In the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite, today is Low Sunday, or Dominici in Albis (when the newly baptized put aside their white baptismal garments), also known as Quasimodo Sunday. In the Extraordinary Form, each day of the Octave has been a first class feast and from Monday through Saturday, the Sequence has been chanted/recited after the Alleluia (Victimae Paschali Laudes/Christians, to the Paschal Victim), although it is not included in today's Mass.

The latter name--Quasimodo Sunday--comes from the Introit (1 Peter 2:2):

Quasi modo geniti infantes, alleluia: rationabiles, sine dolo lac concupiscite, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Like newborn infants, you must long for the pure, spiritual milk, that in him you may grow to salvation, alleluia.

I think nearly everywhere in the USA, however, the Baptism of new adult Catholics has been delayed, perhaps until the Vigil of Pentecost, so none of the Collects for the Octave in the Ordinary Form, with their emphasis on the newly baptized, has applied as much as usual. Christ is Risen; but time seems a little out of joint.

And, as the Fisheaters website explains, there's literary connection to the Quasimodo Sunday name too:

And yes, the name of this Feast is the origin of the name of the hunchback, Quasimodo, in Victor Hugo's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." Poor Quasimodo was a foundling who was discovered at the cathedral on Low Sunday and so was named for the Feast. He is introduced in Hugo's book like this:

Sixteen years previous to the epoch when this story takes place, one fine morning, on Quasimodo Sunday, a living creature had been deposited, after Mass, in the church of Notre- Dame, on the wooden bed securely fixed in the vestibule on the left, opposite that great image of Saint Christopher, which the figure of Messire Antoine des Essarts, chevalier, carved in stone, had been gazing at on his knees since 1413, when they took it into their heads to overthrow the saint and the faithful follower. Upon this bed of wood it was customary to expose foundlings for public charity. Whoever cared to take them did so. In front of the wooden bed was a copper basin for alms.

The sort of living being which lay upon that plank on the morning of Quasimodo, in the year of the Lord, 1467, appeared to excite to a high degree, the curiosity of the numerous group which had congregated about the wooden bed. The group was formed for the most part of the fair sex. Hardly any one was there except old women. . . .

"What is this, sister?" said Agnes to Gauchère, gazing at the little creature exposed, which was screaming and writhing on the wooden bed, terrified by so many glances.

"What is to become of us," said Jehanne, "if that is the way children are made now?"

"I'm not learned in the matter of children," resumed Agnes, "but it must be a sin to look at this one."

The infant is a misshapen hunchback but Claude Frollo, the Archdeacon of Notre Dame, brings him into the Cathedral, naming him for the day of his adoption.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Book Review, Part I: John Henry Newman on Truth and Its Counterfeits

Reinhard Hutter's book on John Henry Newman was on the top of my wish list for 2020 new releases and I finally purchased my copy from Eighth Day Books on the Monday of Holy Week and read it before the Paschal Triduum began. It was worth the wait and I highly recommend it both to those who've studied Newman and those who are new to Newman and interested in certain religious controversies.

In my review here, I'm interspersing my comments throughout the table of contents. At the end of the review (in a second post), I'll state my overall conclusion about the book.

Subtitle: A Guide for Our Times

List of Abbreviations

Prologue: Newman and Us
*Newman's Sojourn "from Shadows and Images into Truth"
*Structure, Scope, and Objective

Hutter establishes a cogent reason for writing this book proposing Newman as "A Guide for Our Times" noting that Newman saw three problems in his own century that would continue to develop and deepen unless the Catholic Church raised up champions against them: (1) the Spirit of Liberalism in religion; (2) the usurpation of religion and faith by rationalism; and (3) the unfettered rule of the principle of private judgment in religion. Hutter cites Newman's 1873 sermon "The Infidelity of the Future" as a prescient forecast of our situation now.

After providing an appropriately detailed biography of Newman, Hutter establishes the Structure, Scope, and Objective of the book: each chapter deals with a counterfeit of the true meaning of its term (conscience, faith, Newman's idea of the development of doctrine, and the university) and describes how Newman provides a defense of the truth. As Hutter notes, the main issue in each chapter is Newman's opposition to the principle of "private judgment" and the idea of a "sovereign subject", a person who, as Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in 1991 (Planned Parenthood v. Casey) can determine his or her own reality, which must be accepted by even those who know that reality is not true.

The real surprise to me was that Hutter establishes St. Thomas Aquinas as the main interlocutor to Newman in three of the four chapters. Since I have usually read that Newman was not a systematic theologian--more of a controversialist--this Newman-Aquinas connection was enlightening. As Hutter explains, Newman consulted Aquinas on conscience; Hutter thinks Aquinas help us understand what Newman says about faith more clearly; and Newman and Aquinas shared a vision of a university education.

Hutter cites other indications of Newman's regard for Aquinas, including evidence that he had read Aquinas while at Oriel College (thus as an Anglican); that he had Aquinas' complete works in his library and several other volumes by Aquinas; that there are annotations on different volumes, and that in 1878, after Pope Leo XIII issued his encyclical Aeternus Patris, re-establishing Aquinas as the Common Doctor of Catholic philosophy and theology, Newman was confident that he would not be found to be in conflict with Aquinas in his Grammar of Assent. Hutter also notes that Newman had been disappointed to learn that Aristotle and Aquinas were not in style in Rome while he studied for the Catholic priesthood after his conversion.

Hutter offers an excellent explanation for how the different methods of Newman and Aquinas complement each other. Newman's theological genius is psychological, phenomenological and controversial--he practices theology in a "context of discovery", defending Catholic teaching "not just in its notions but its reality"; Aquinas, the Common Doctor, best represents theology in the "context of justification", explaining Catholic teaching systematically, doctrinally, and speculatively. Newman and Aquinas have the same philosophical master: Aristotle.

Hutter then sets out to demonstrate how Newman addresses "today's most pressing issues from a Catholic perspective," starting with Conscience and Its Counterfeit.

Chapter 1. Conscience and Its Counterfeit
*John Henry Newman on Conscience and Its Counterfeit
*Aquinas on Synderesis and Conscientia
*Conscience and Prudence
*The Erroneous Conscience
*Invincible Ignorance
*The Erroneous Conscience and the Counterfeit of Conscience
*Aquinas and Newman--Complementary Accounts of Conscience?
*Conscience and the Magisterium
*Freedom of Conscience as Freedom in the Truth
*Seven (7) Appendices on various aspects of Conscience, including notes on Luther, Calvin, Melancthon, Kant, and Fichte on definitions of Conscience

Because I've studied and even presented on Newman's defense of the true idea of Conscience against its Counterfeit of "self-will" none of what Hutter said about Newman's great contribution here was new to me, except for his discussion of how Aquinas' systematic explanation of synderesis as an innate habit and of conscience as an act, and how those terms, which Newman does not precisely use, back up Newman's explanation of conscience and how important that defense is to our true understanding of our moral choices, our freedom, and our obedience to Christ and His Church. The counterfeit of conscience, self-will, is a manifestation both of private judgment and liberalism in religious matters, making the individual the center of both the habit of choosing the good and the action of conscience deciding what is good. The individual determines what is good for herself--regardless of its objective value as revealed by God and His Church--and decides which action/choice will be good for herself and consistent with what she wants.

Chapter 2. Faith and Its Counterfeits
*Newman on Faith and Private Judgment
*Faith [Divine Faith]
*Private Judgment
*Protestantism and Private Judgment
*Divine Faith Is a Matter of Grace
*Thomas Aquinas on Divine Faith
*The Formal and the Material Object of Faith
*On Abjuring the Formal Object of "by which" of Faith
*Conclusion: Divine Faith and Its Counterfeit
*Appendix 1 (Newman's Studies in Rome; notes on Catholic Theologians on Faith)
*Appendix 2 (Certitude and Truth)

This chapter best exemplified how St. Thomas Aquinas' systematic theology of Divine Faith as one of the theological virtues, infused in our souls through the grace of baptism with water in the Name  of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit informs Newman's orthodox treatment of faith in a few Catholic sermons and other works. One of the main issues for Newman was that his conversion--becoming a Catholic years after he received the gift and grace of Divine Faith in baptism--was not a matter of private judgment and act of a "sovereign subject" deciding what was best for him, consistent with his own values, but was a response to truth. In his epilogue, Hutter cites an image Newman used of a man using a lantern to guide his way home in the dark--once inside his home, he doesn't need the lantern any more. This certainly conforms to Newman's statement in the Apologia pro Vita Sua that after becoming Catholic he did not need to form private judgments on the Church's doctrine because he had submitted to the living authority of God, "the oracle of God":

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 connexion 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. Of all points of faith, the being of a God is, to my own apprehension, encompassed with most difficulty, and yet borne in upon our minds with most power. 
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. . . . (Chapter 5. The Position of My Mind Since 1845)
Here I'd like to highlight Hutter's use of the the appendices at the end of these chapters. He uses them, like his rather extensive footnotes, to explore related subjects (the seven appendices at the end of Chapter 1 outline the various definitions of conscience by Protestant reformers and the speculations of Catholic theologians like Karl Rahner, SJ, and Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger). The first Appendix to this chapter shows Newman's development in understanding Divine Faith through his studies of and notes from Catholic theologians like Suarez, Bellarmine, Lugo, Tanner, and Perrone (Jesuit, post-Tridentine). Thus Newman, who as an Anglican had thought of faith as "a higher reason and a gifted inference, came to understand the "process of supernatural faith" or the "analysis fidei" by 1853. As Hutter notes, almost twenty years later (1870), Newman would write the Grammar of Assent including a "compelling description of divine faith in its full and authentic Catholic scope", quoting Chapter 5, section 3, pages 152-153. In the second Appendix to this chapter, Hutter explores the Grammar of Assent further by presenting Newman's arguments on the Indefectibility of Certitude, section 2 of Chapter 7.

Since this is becoming a very long post, I'll break off here. For my comments the next two chapters, Hutter's Epilogue, and my summary review, please see my post next Tuesday (my late mother's birthday!), April 21:

Chapter 3. The Development of Doctrine and Its Counterfeits
*Development of Doctrine: The Voice of the Magisterium
*How Is an Authentic Development of Doctrine to be Discerned?
*Newman's Seven Notes of an Authentic Development of Doctrine
*A Test Case of Authentic Development of Doctrine: "Dignitatis Humanae"
*Conclusion: Two Counterfeits of the Authentic Development of Doctrine
*Appendix: Francisco Marin-Sola's Thomist Reception of Newman

Chapter 4. The University and Its Counterfeit
*University Education and (Natural) Theology as a Science
*The Indispensability of (Natural) Theology for University Education
*Becoming a Master of the Twofold "Logos", Thought and Word
*A Pragmatic Postscript
*Appendix: Metaphysics and Natural Theology

Epilogue: A Newmanian Theological Journey into the Catholic Church
*Moral Theology
*Justification, Church, and Eucharist
*Encountering Mother Church

Selected Bibliography
Index of Names
General Index

Friday, April 17, 2020

Preview: "Christ, A Quickening Spirit" and The Blessed Sacrament

The Son Rise Morning Show took the Octave of Easter off, but Anna Mitchell and I wanted to continue meditations on St. John Henry Newman's sermons during the Easter Season. So on Monday, April 20, we'll begin with one of his Parochial and Plain Sermons, "Christ, A Quickening Spirit", a sermon he preached on "The Feast of of the Resurrection of Our Lord". It is from Volume 2, Sermon 13 and he preached it on April 3, 1831.

In this sermon, Newman sets out a few of he calls "comfortable" or perhaps comforting thoughts about the Resurrection of Jesus. First of all, he points out how well the Resurrection of Jesus "harmonizes the history of His birth":

David had foretold that His "soul should not be left in hell" (that is, the unseen state), neither should "the Holy One of God see corruption." And with a reference to this prophecy, St. Peter says, that it "was not possible that He should be holden of death;" [Ps. xvi. 10. Acts ii. 24, 27] as if there were some hidden inherent vigour in Him, which secured His manhood from dissolution. The greatest infliction of pain and violence could only destroy its powers for a season; but nothing could make it decay. "Thou wilt not suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption;" so says the Scripture, and elsewhere calls him the "Holy child Jesus." [Acts iv. 27] These expressions carry our minds back to the Angels' announcement of His birth, in which His incorruptible and immortal nature is implied. "That Holy Thing" which was born of Mary, was "the Son," not of man, but "of God." Others have all been born in sin, "after Adam's own likeness, in His image," [Gen. v. 3.] and, being born in sin, they are heirs to corruption. "By one man sin entered into the world, and death," and all its consequences, "by sin." Not one human being comes into existence without God's discerning evidences of sin attendant on his birth. But when the Word of Life was manifested in our flesh, the Holy Ghost displayed that creative hand by which, in the beginning, Eve was formed; and the Holy Child, thus conceived by the power of the Highest, was (as the history shows) immortal even in His mortal nature, clear from all infection of the forbidden fruit, so far as to be sinless and incorruptible. Therefore, though He was liable to death, "it was impossible He should be holden" of it. Death might overpower, but it could not keep possession; "it had no dominion over Him." [Rom. vi. 9.] He was, in the words of the text, "the Living among the dead."

In a beautiful passage, Newman describes Jesus's appearance as a man:

Such is the connexion between Christ's birth and resurrection; and more than this might be ventured concerning His incorrupt nature, were it not better to avoid all risk of trespassing upon that reverence with which we are bound to regard it. Something might be said concerning His personal appearance, which seems to have borne the marks of one who was not tainted with birth-sin. Men could scarce keep from worshipping Him. When the Pharisees sent to seize Him, all the officers, on His merely acknowledging Himself to be Him whom they sought, fell backwards from His presence to the ground. They were scared as brutes are said to be by the voice of man. Thus, being created in God's image, He was the second Adam; and much more than Adam in His secret nature, which beamed through His tabernacle of flesh with awful purity and brightness even in the days of His humiliation. "The first man was of the earth, earthy; the second man was the Lord from heaven." [1 Cor. xv. 47.]

Therefore in his second "comfortable" thought, Newman says that after the Resurrection and before the Ascension, Jesus's appearance was even more attractive and beautiful:

So transfigured was His Sacred Body, that He who had deigned to be born of a woman, and to hang upon the cross, had subtle virtue in Him, like a spirit, to pass through the closed doors to His assembled followers; while, by condescending to the trial of their senses, He showed that it was no mere spirit, but He Himself, as before, with wounded hands and pierced side, who spoke to them. He manifested Himself to them, in this His exalted state, that they might be His witnesses to the people; witnesses of those separate truths which man's reason cannot combine, that He had a real human body, that it was partaker in the properties of His Soul, and that it was inhabited by the Eternal Word. . . . Thus manifested as perfect God and perfect man, in the fulness of His sovereignty, and the immortality of His holiness, He ascended up on high to take possession of His kingdom. There He remains till the last day, "Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Ever-lasting Father, The Prince of Peace." [Isa. ix. 6.]

Thirdly, Newman reminded his congregation that Jesus's Ascension was essential to His mission, but did not mean that He left us alone, because He gave us the Eucharist:

He ascended into heaven, that He might plead our cause with the Father; as it is said, "He ever liveth to make intercession for us." [Heb. vii. 25.] Yet we must not suppose, that in leaving us He closed the gracious economy of His Incarnation, and withdrew the ministration of His incorruptible Manhood from His work of loving mercy towards us. "The Holy One of God" was ordained, not only to die for us, but also to be "the beginning" of a new "creation" unto holiness, in our sinful race; to refashion soul and body after His own likeness, that they might be "raised up together, and sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Blessed for ever be His Holy Name! before He went away, He remembered our necessity, and completed His work, bequeathing to us a special mode of approaching Him, a Holy Mystery, in which we receive (we know not how) the virtue of that Heavenly Body, which is the life of all that believe. This is the blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist, in which "Christ is evidently set forth crucified among us;" that we, feasting upon the Sacrifice, may be "partakers of the Divine Nature." Let us give heed lest we be in the number of those who "discern not the Lord's Body," and the "exceeding great and precious promises" which are made to those who partake it. And since there is some danger of this, I will here make some brief remarks concerning this great gift; and, pray God that our words and thoughts may accord to its unspeakable sacredness.

We have to remember again that Newman was a High Church Anglican: one of the projects of the Oxford or Tractarian Movement was the revival of the Church of England's liturgy. Newman translated, for example, the devotions of the sixteenth century Anglican bishop, Lancelot Andrewes in Tract 88. When you read Andrewes's Preparation for Holy Communion you can see an almost Catholic view of the Blessed Sacrament and receiving Holy Communion. Not all Anglicans agreed with this view of the Real Presence: the Tractarians wanted to revive the celebration of the Eucharist on every Sunday, which was not that common in the 1830's and 1840's. Newman is certainly encouraging his parishioners at the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin to receive Holy Communion and to believe that by doing so they are receiving "the virtue of that Heavenly Body" and are "'partakers of the Divine Nature.'" 

He concludes the description of "this great gift" with reminders of the grace they'll receive in "the Lord's Body":

Let us not doubt, though we do not sensibly approach Him, that He can still give us the virtue of His purity and incorruption, as He has promised, and in a more heavenly and spiritual manner, than "in the days of His flesh;" in a way which does not remove the mere ailments of this temporal state, but sews the seed of eternal life in body and soul. Let us not deny Him the glory of His life-giving holiness, that diffusive grace which is the renovation of our whole race, a spirit quick and powerful and piercing, so as to leaven the whole mass of human corruption, and make it live. He is the first-fruits of the Resurrection: we follow Him each in his own order, as we are hallowed by His inward presence. And in this sense, among others, Christ, in the Scripture phrase, is "formed in us;" that is, the communication is made to us of His new nature, which sanctifies the soul, and makes the body immortal. In like manner we pray in the Service of the Communion that "our sinful bodies may be made clean by His body, and our souls washed through His most precious blood; and that we may evermore dwell in Him and He in us."

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The American Protestant Empire and "The Incorporation", 1940-1947

In my first two posts on Michael DeHaven Newsom's article "The American Protestant Empire: A Historical Perspective" I reviewed his interpretation of the Long English Reformation from Henry VIII to William and Mary and his views of the Protestant Empire established in the British American colonies and the Founders' vision of the United States of America. Newsom concludes that the Founders intended to protect Protestant hegemony in the new USA not at the federal level (thus including a provision for no religious tests for federal office and the non-establishment clause in the First Amendment) but at the state level, through established Protestant churches, institutions, and the destruction of the religious system of African slaves in the USA (and of Native American religious beliefs too). He concludes that section on establishment of the American Protestant Empire with the note that Protestants hoped that through the system of suasion and coercion at the state and local level dissenters--especially Catholics--would eventually become "orthodox" Protestants (evangelical fundamentalists). That was certainly one of the ancillary benefits National Prohibition reformers hoped for: Catholics would sober up and become good evangelical fundamentalist Protestants!

All that remains to discuss is Newsom's section "C. The Incorporation". I admit I struggled with this section because I cannot determine where he defines or finds the term The Incorporation, which he dates to 1940-1947. It's not a period I've ever seen mentioned in surveys of American history. I presume he coined the term himself or perhaps he is referring to the incorporation of the Bill of Rights and other Amendments into state laws by the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment in the nineteenth century, because he does not cite a specific source for The Incorporation of 1940-1947 that I can see--or why he dates it to 1940-1947. He describes the Incorporation as "an adjustment of the rules of the Protestant Empire, largely inspired by the conclusion that the Protestant majority had proceeded in an excessively ham-handed way with respect to religious minorities." Catholics were still the main group the American Protestant Empire wanted to persuade or coerce--the same Elizabethan/Stuart fear of Catholics as alien and dangerous was in place, "embedded in American culture." (p. 256)

He sets the scene for this Incorporation by explaining how the result of "the Scopes Monkey Trial" (The State of Tennessee vs. John Thomas Scopes) in 1925 and the failure of National Prohibition in 1933 left only the Protestant control of religious teachings and Bible reading (The King James Bible) in the common (public) schools as the main source of suasion and coercion in the American Protestant Empire. In general, he notes, State Courts upheld this religious control--and of course states had legislated this control through the Blaine Amendments.

Newsom sees an English historical parallel for the inspiration of this Incorporation in the Restoration reaction to the Puritans as the Anglicans in 1660 recognized that the "zealous push to Protestantize in a radical Puritan direction can go too far" (p. 259). Therefore, the Incorporation was a Protestant effort to maintain the American Protestant Empire by non-evangelical fundamentalist Protestants in the USA comparable to the Stuart religious settlement at the Restoration because evangelical fundamentalist Protestantism had caused "serious trouble" (p. 269) in the USA as Puritans had in the Interregnum England. So through the Incorporation--whose "idea" Newsom notes "may go back to the time [1868] of the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment" (p. 261), the Tentative Principle was revised.

The previous Tentative Principle was:

allocate much of the work of the Anglo-American Reformation to the states and other institutions and not the federal government (pp. 250 and 251).

In 1833, Massachusetts became the last state to end support of its established church, the Congregationalists: thus the first part of that Tentative Principle had fallen away long before 1940-1947, the Scopes trial, or the experiment of Prohibition.

The Revised Tentative Principle was/is:

allocate much of the work of the Anglo-American Reformation to the states and other institutions and not the federal government, but allocate none of the work of the work of the Anglo-American Reformation to the officials, administrators or teachers in the common schools (p. 263)

Again, I could not find a citation for some pan-Protestant document or agreement among mainline Protestants that set forth this new agreement: it must be his interpretation of what happened, as U.S. Supreme Court and State Court decisions removed all religious (Protestant) expression from the common/public schools:
  • eliminate prayer in common schools
  • eliminate religious instruction in common schools
  • eliminate the posting of the Ten Commandments in common schools
  • eliminate the teaching of creationism in common schools (or the "balanced treatment" of both evolution and creationism in common schools
and Newsom fills almost a page with footnotes describing the cases that led to this secularization of the common schools (p. 262)--but most of them were decided after 1940-1947(?).

Newsom doesn't deal with it much, but I presume that the onus of upholding the American Protestant Empire in the common schools is thus left to the students (and their parents), who demand the freedom to pray, to read the Holy Bible when out of the classroom but still in the school, to cite the Ten Commandments or other religious, biblical, moral, doctrinal or liturgical beliefs in their homework assignments, presentations, etc. Thus the battle over valedictorian speeches at graduation ceremonies with any mention of God or faith: what freedom of religion does the student have at an official event?

In 2001, Newsom--in his Conclusion--asserted not only that the American Protestant Empire was a "historical reality" but also that it is "a present reality in a way that would warm the hearts of Henry and Elizabeth." (pp. 263-264) He cites Catholics losing their faith in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist as a key to the kind of assimilation Lyman Beecher hoped for in the nineteenth century--without that belief Newsom doesn't see much difference between Catholics and evangelical Protestants. According to more recent Pew polls, that failure of belief may have only gotten worse. Newsom comments in a footnote (611) that there is a tendency to view Catholicism in America as just another pan-Protestant denomination engaged in the "culture wars". 

He also notes that "The continuing problem of race in America, particularly as it relates to African-Americans, a problem invented by Anglo-Protestants, is far from being solved." (p. 264) He absolved the Catholic Church from racial problems in footnote 68 on p. 197, with the statement that "Slavery in the Roman Catholic New World was far less harsh than in the British and American New World"--an absolution I don't think that many Catholic historians would accept absolutely. Certainly we could argue that the Catholic Church taught against chattel slavery, argued for the good, fair treatment of indentured servants, outright condemned all forms of slavery, etc., during our long. long history, but instances like the Jesuits at Georgetown University owning--and selling--slaves in the nineteenth century make any Catholic virtue signalling on African-American chattel slavery uncomfortable.

Current common opinion seems to be that the United States is an officially secular country insofar as our government and administration of laws attest, but that many United States citizens live according to religious moral and doctrinal teachings, wanting to worship freely, live according to our faith, and hand on our religious beliefs through catechesis. Thus we rely upon the government and administration of laws to protect those freedoms. Thus the continuing existence of parochial and private schools, Catholic and Protestant, Jewish and Muslim, etc. 

Newsom is not content with that common opinion, not because he sees the virtues of an American Protestant Empire, but the dangers of an American Protestant Empire. As he stated in note 3, page 188:

It is my ultimate judgment that the American Protestant Empire has largely been an unmitigated disaster for people who are not both white and Protestant, particularly, but not exclusively, Native Americans and African-Americans. I also believe that it has posed enormous difficulties for whites who are not Protestants, mainly Catholics, Jews and Eastern Orthodox, the so-called "white ethnics". . . .

The American Protestant Empire needs to end, but it will not unless and until people who have been harmed by it take conscious and deliberate steps to end it. . . .

I wonder if anyone has taken up his challenge, that if they really want to claim that the USA is a post-Protestant country, they have "a great deal of explaining to do"[!] He thinks that with 500 plus years of history, and of constraint and coercion, the American Protestant Empire is "a culturally embedded reality" (p. 266)

As you can reasonably conclude from the fact that I dedicated three posts to a seventy-nine page article in a law journal, Professor Newsom's argument, historical and legal, fascinated me. The main difficulty I had was the lack of documentation for either the first Tentative Principle of the Founders' religious arrangements in The Constitution of the United States of America or the Revised Tentative Principle of The Incorporation of 1940-1947. Since his argument is based on "historical inquiry" (p. 245), shouldn't he present some documentation for these Tentative Principles? I did not find that documentation clearly presented in his notes--they seem to be inventions of his interpretation of nineteenth and twentieth century American history. 

Monday, April 13, 2020

Christ Is Risen! He is Truly Risen!

As it may have been for many of you who read this blog--if you are Christian and especially if you are Catholic--this past Holy Week and Easter has been an amazing and confusing experience for me. Except for illness (my own or a family members) I cannot remember missing all of the Masses and services for Holy Week, the Paschal Triduum, and Easter Sunday.

We've all had to deal in it with different ways, liturgically, virtually, spiritually, emotionally, and even socio-politically, as in debating what course our governing agencies, including our bishops and pastors, should be taking.

Whatever our responses to this crisis, the fact remains that our Savior has saved us and He Is Risen: He Lives!

Because He Lives, we live and have the hope of eternal life with him. No matter what I went through last week, I Know that My Redeemer Liveth:

I know that my redeemer liveth 
And that he shall stand 
At the latter day, upon the earth 

And though worms destroy this body 
Yet in my flesh shall I see God 

For now is Christ risen from the dead 
The first fruits of them that sleep 
Of them that sleep 

Handel's Messiah debuted in Dublin on April 13, 1742! Hallejuah!

Monday, April 6, 2020

This Morning: "Knowledge of God's Will": Watch and Pray

As promised, I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show with Matt Swaim at about 7:50 a.m. Eastern/6:50 a.m. Central to talk about St. John Henry Newman's PPS (Parochial and Plain Sermon) "Knowledge of God's Will". Please listen live here; the podcast will be archived here.

On Friday, I left off just as Newman was counselling a repentant sinner who wants to convert, do penance, and obey God more than he has before. But he can't quite do it: "Here a man draws back. No; he cannot bear to lose the love of the world, to part with his present desires and tastes; he cannot consent to be changed." Newman further says that what he really wants is not change but to have "his conscience taken out of the way" so he can get on with his life.

But then Newman goes deeper: what about the person who really wants to change? What does she do?

But if a man is in earnest in wishing to get at the depths of his own heart, to expel the evil, to purify the good, and to gain power over himself, so as to do as well as know the Truth, what is the difficulty?—a matter of time indeed, but not of uncertainty is the recovery of such a man. So simple is the rule which he must follow, and so trite, that at first he will be surprised to hear it. God does great things by plain methods; and men start from them through pride, because they are plain. . . . Christ says, "Watch and pray;" herein lies our cure. To watch and to pray are surely in our power, and by these means we are certain of getting strength. You feel your weakness; you fear to be overcome by temptation: then keep out of the way of it.

With the words "Watch and Pray" Newman cites the other great event of Holy Thursday, Jesus's Agony in the Garden, which we normally commemorate by our vigil before the Blessed Sacrament in the Altar of Repose after the Mass of the Lord's Supper. Our Lord told the disciples to "Watch and Pray" while He prayed, preparing for His Passion. (They fell asleep.)

How do you keep out of the way of temptation? "Watch and Pray":

Avoid society which is likely to mislead you; flee from the very shadow of evil; you cannot be too careful; better be a little too strict than a little too easy,—it is the safer side. Abstain from reading books which are dangerous to you. Turn from bad thoughts when they arise, set about some business, begin conversing with some friend, or say to yourself the Lord's Prayer reverently. When you are urged by temptation, whether it be by the threats of the world, false shame, self-interest, provoking conduct on the part of another, or the world's sinful pleasures, urged to be cowardly, or covetous, or unforgiving, or sensual, shut your eyes and think of Christ's precious blood-shedding. Do not dare to say you cannot help sinning; a little attention to these points will go far (through God's grace) to keep you in the right way. And again, pray as well as watch.

Then Newman reminds us:

You must know that you can do nothing of yourself; your past experience has taught you this; therefore look to God for the will and the power; ask Him earnestly in His Son's name; seek His holy ordinances. Is not this in your power? Have you not power at least over the limbs of your body, so as to attend the means of grace constantly? Have you literally not the power to come hither; to observe the Fasts and Festivals of the Church; to come to His Holy Altar and receive the Bread of Life? Get yourself, at least, to do this; to put out the hand, to take His gracious Body and Blood; this is no arduous work;—and you say you really wish to gain the blessings He offers. What would you have more than a free gift, vouchsafed "without money and without price?" So, make no more excuses; murmur not about your own bad heart, your knowing and resolving, and not doing. Here is your remedy.
I know that all of us want to "come hither" to celebrate the Fast and Festivals of the Church in our parishes, but we can't--we have to observe them from home, either on-line or in private prayer--and all of us want to "receive the Bread of Life" but we can't--we must unite ourselves to Jesus spiritually. 

We "literally" do not have "the power to come hither", but we can all still "Watch and Pray".

Image Credit: The Agony in the Garden by El Greco, c. 1590

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Holy Week in the "Lentiest Lent I Ever Lented"

In 2015, I wrote on this blog about how much I benefit spiritually every year from attending Mass and the Good Friday Services throughout Passiontide and Holy Week:

I love being Catholic every Passiontide and Holy Week. Our Church has a series of rituals and special hymns to accompany us on the journey from Passion Sunday through Palm Sunday and the Triduum to Easter Sunday.

Then I commented near the end of the post, never thinking the day would ever come:

Also, every Holy Week when I experience these rituals, I think how horrible it would be to lose these outward representations--some are sacramentals and some are Sacraments--of the great Paschal Mystery. The Catholic people of England lost these rituals, and many others in the Sarum Use, in the sixteenth century. They were taken away in the name of preventing superstition but these rituals were not superstitious; the Church had developed these rituals to remind people of all that Jesus had done for His people, the Church.

The rituals of Holy Week were taken away because the reformers did not trust the unity between Jesus and His Church; the reformers were complicating the matter in a way that St. Joan of Arc had warned against: "About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they are just one thing and we shouldn't complicate the matter." Because the English reformers complicated the matter, the Catholic people of England ended up with palmless Palm Sundays, candleless Candlemases and ashless Ash Wednesdays not to mention Shrovetide without Confession and Communion without the Real Presence. So within a couple of generations, they weren't the Catholic people of England anymore and yet a few endured, suffered, survived and revived three centuries later--which is another miracle indeed.

Of course anything good can be abused; even replacing rituals with a non-ritual can be abused and even reading the Bible could be abused superstitiously. Our Christian faith is an incarnational religion that unites the human and Divine in the great mystery and miracle of Jesus and His Church, His Bride for whom He lived and died and rose and lives always. The Catholic Church, messy and sinful as we certainly are with people like me among us, displays that mystery most miraculously every Passiontide, Holy Week, and Triduum.

Both pictures provided and copyright by Mark U. Mann (c) 2013-2015; used by permission. (Holy Week afternoon at Blessed Sacrament; Easter Sunday at St. Anthony of Padua.)

I don't think we're going to have a palmless Palm Sunday in our parish, Blessed Sacrament, at least. Our pastor and parochial vicar will hand them out in a drive through after the private Masses on Saturday and Sunday!! God bless them! Father Heiman and Father Siegman will celebrate each of the service of the Holy Triduum and broadcast them on Facebook and YouTube, but none of us can attend them of course. Our Bishop, Carl Kemme, is even celebrating the Chrism Mass on Tuesday (blessed the oils at least) at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception!

God bless you all this Holy Week! 

Saturday, April 4, 2020

The Church of the Immaculate Conception, Derbyshire, in 1846

I just wanted to draw your attention to a post on the New Liturgical Movement website about the dedication of a new Catholic Church in 1846--thus after Emancipation/Catholic Relief but before the Restoration of the Hierarchy. The lengthy, excellent post was contributed by Sharon Kabel:

In the fall of 1846, construction finished for Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Spinkhill, Derbyshire, England. The event merited a nearly 2,500 word, 4-column write-up in the Catholic Telegraph.

Spinkhill, almost exactly in the middle of England, is a not-insignificant region for students of English Catholic history. It was a Jesuit mission, and a hotbed of resistance during the country’s anti-Catholic attacks. Some of the land was owned by the Pole family (of the great Cardinal Reginald Pole), and one of the teachers at the nearby Mount St. Mary’s College was Gerard Manley Hopkins.

A magnificently detailed history of Immaculate Conception Church has fortunately already been written by Paul D. Walker (Church of the Immaculate Conception, Spinkhill; 1990), and there are numerous shorter histories of the church. It will suffice here to concentrate on a few details of Immaculate Conception’s opening (September 21) and consecration (September 22), that survive because of a thorough 19th century journalist.

In attendance were at least two bishops: Nicholas Wiseman (later Cardinal), and Thomas Walsh. Wiseman, who was to fill Walsh’s episcopal sandals in a few short years, needs little introduction. Walsh lived a fascinating span of years, being jailed as a college student in 1793 during the French Revolution, witnessing Pope Pius VII’s restoration of the Jesuits in 1814 (a particularly important event for Spinkhill), and dying 1 year after the 1848 Revolutions.

Please read the rest there.

Note that both Nicholas Wiseman and Thomas Walsh were serving as Vicars Apostolic in England. Bishop Thomas Walsh was the Vicar Apostolic of the Central District and was called the Titular Bishop of Cambysopolis. Bishop Nicholas Wiseman, the Titular Bishop of Milopotamus, was the coadjutor Vicar Apostolic of the Central District. That's why he succeeded Bishop Walsh. Eventually he would become the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster with the restoration of the hierarchy in 1850.

Image credit: the entrance to the church. Used through a Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license 2.0.