Monday, May 31, 2021

From Newman to Macaulay to More to Richard Brothers and Prince Hohenlohe?

I apologize for the blogging drought. I've been working on an academic paper for the 4th annual Florovsky-Newman Week sponsored by Eighth Day Institute (EDI). Writing about Newman's religious opinions about Baptism and the Church from 1816 to 1828 has meant that I've been reading his Apologia pro Vita Sua and other works, including Ian Ker's biography of Newman and a book I think is now out of print (The Church. . . . .A Communion--in the preaching and thought of John Henry Newman by James Tolhurst DD, Gracewing, 1991).

In the Apologia, I was mostly working in the first chapter, "History of My Religious Opinions to the Year 1833" but I did skip to the fifth chapter, "Position of My Mind Since 1845". In his introduction to the Penguin edition of the Apologia, Father Ian Ker says the last chapter should be read separately to help us understand Newman's thoughts about the Catholic Church in the mid to late nineteenth century.

In Chapter 5, Newman proclaims that after becoming a Catholic, he had “no further history of my religious opinions to narrate”. Of course he was still thinking about theological and doctrinal matters, but he didn't have to form private judgments about them in the same way as he did before. For instance, he mentions the teaching on transubstantiation:

People say that the doctrine of Transubstantiation is difficult to believe; I did not believe the doctrine till I was a Catholic. I had no difficulty in believing it, as soon as I believed that the Catholic Roman Church was the oracle of God, and that she had declared this doctrine to be part of the original revelation. It is difficult, impossible, to imagine, I grant;—but how is it difficult to believe?

Then he cites a comment by Thomas Babington Macaulay:

Yet Macaulay thought it so difficult to believe, that he had need of a believer in it of talents as eminent as Sir Thomas More, before he could bring himself to conceive that the Catholics of an enlightened age could resist "the overwhelming force of the argument against it." "Sir Thomas More," he says, "is one of the choice specimens of wisdom and virtue; and the doctrine of transubstantiation is a kind of proof charge. A faith which stands that test, will stand any test."

So I searched for the source of that quotation. It is from Thomas Babington Macaulay's review of Leopold von Ranke's History of the Popes. Here is a fuller quotation:

But when we reflect that Sir Thomas More was ready to die for the doctrine of transubstantiation, we cannot but feel some doubt whether the doctrine of transubstantiation may not triumph over all opposition. More was a man of eminent talents. He had all the information on the subject that we have, or that, while the world lasts, any human being will have. The text, “This is my body,” was in his New Testament as it is in ours. The absurdity of the literal interpretation was as great and as obvious in the sixteenth century as it is now. No progress that science has made, or will make, can add to what seems to us the overwhelming force of the argument against the Real Presence. We are, therefore, unable to understand why what Sir Thomas More believed respecting transubstantiation may not be believed to the end of time by men equal in abilities and honesty to Sir Thomas More. But Sir Thomas More is one of the choice specimens of human wisdom and virtue; and the doctrine of transubstantiation is a kind of proof charge. A faith which stands that test will stand any test. The prophecies of Brothers and the miracles of Prince Hohenlohe sink to trifles in the comparison.

One point is that Macaulay didn't know that King Henry VIII also defended the doctrine of transubstantiation--before and after the Break from Rome! According to Macaulay, Henry VIII was as absurd as More in taking the words "This is my body" literally! More was willing to die for the doctrine of transubstantiation, but that wasn't why he was imprisoned, tried, and sentenced to death. That was because he refused to sign the oaths Henry VIII required which denied the authority of the Vicar of Christ, the Pope.

So that made me wonder what the "prophecies of Brothers" and the "miracles of Prince Hohenlohe" were.

The "prophesies of Brothers" refers to the works of Richard Brothers, described as a "British religious fanatic" in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica:

born in Newfoundland on Christmas day, 1757, and educated at Woolwich. He entered the navy and served under Keppel and Rodney. In 1783 he became lieutenant, and was discharged on half-pay. He travelled on the continent, made an unhappy marriage in 1786, and again went to sea. But he felt that the military calling and Christianity were incompatible and abandoned the former (1789). Further scruples as to the oath required on the receipt of his half-pay reduced him to serious pecuniary straits (1791), and he divided his time between the open air and the workhouse, where he developed the idea that he had a special divine commission, and wrote to the king and the parliament to that effect. In 1793 he declared himself the apostle of a new religion, “the nephew of the Almighty, and prince of the Hebrews, appointed to lead them to the land of Canaan.” At the end of 1794 he began to print his interpretations of prophecy, his first book being A Revealed Knowledge of the Prophecies and Times. In consequence of prophesying the death of the king and the end of the monarchy, he was arrested for treason in 1795, and confined as a criminal lunatic. His case was, however, brought before parliament by his ardent disciple, Nathaniel Halhed, the orientalist, a member of the House of Commons, and he was removed to a private asylum in Islington. Here he wrote a variety of prophetic pamphlets, which gained him many believers, amongst them William Sharp, the engraver, who afterwards deserted him for Joanna Southcott. Brothers, however, had announced that on the 19th of November 1795 he was to be “revealed” as prince of the Hebrews and ruler of the world; and when this date passed without any such manifestation, what enthusiasm he had aroused rapidly dwindled, despite the fact that some of his earlier political predictions (e.g. the violent death of Louis XVI.) had been fulfilled. He died in London on the 25th of January 1824, in the house of John Finlayson, who had secured his release, and who afterwards pestered the government with an enormous claim for Brothers’s maintenance. The supporters of the Anglo-Israelite theory claim him as the first writer on their side.

The "miracles of Prince Hohenlohe" refers to Prince Alexander of Hohenlohe-Waldenburg-Schillingsfürst, a German priest and miracle worker. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia he was:

A titular Bishop of Sardica, famous for his many supposedly miraculous cures, born 17 August, 1794, at Kupferzell in Würtemberg; died 14 November, 1849, at Vöslau near Vienna. He studied the humanities at the Theresianum in Vienna, 1804-8, and at Berne, 1808-10; philosophy at Vienna, 1810-12; theology at Tyrnau in Hungary, 1812-14, and at Ellwangen, 1814-15. On 16 September, 1815, he was ordained priest and at once devoted himself to the care of souls first at Stuttgart, then at Munich. In October, 1816, he went to Rome where he had little difficulty in justifying himself against the accusations of having administered the sacraments in the German language and of belonging to the Bible Society. On his return he made a pilgrimage to Loreto, and again arrived at Munich on 23 March, 1817. On 8 June of the same year he was made ecclesiastical councillor, and, in 1821, canon of Bamberg. About this time began the numerous miraculous cures which are alleged to have been effected through the prayers of Hohenlohe. On 1 February, 1821, he was suddenly cured at Hassfurt of a severe pain in the throat in consequence of the prayers of a devout peasant named Martin Michel. His belief in the efficacy of prayer was greatly strengthened by this cure, and on 21 June, 1821, he succeeded in curing the Princess Mathilda von Schwarzenberg, who had been a paralytic for eight years, by his prayers which he joined with those of Martin Michel. Having asked the pope whether he was permitted to attempt similar cures in the future, he was told not to attempt any more public cures, but he continued them in private. He would specify a time during which he would pray for those that applied to him, and in this manner he effected numerous cures not only on the Continent, but also in England, Ireland, and the United States. Worthy of mention is the case of Mrs. Ann Mattingly of Washington, D. C., who was said to have been cured of a tumour through his prayers on 10 March, 1824. Rome did not pass judgment on these supposed miracles and Catholics were divided in their opinion. In 1824 Hohenlohe became canon, in 1829 provost, and later Vicar-General and Administrator of Grosswardein. In 1844 he was made chorepiscopus and titular Bishop of Sardica. He is the author of four volumes of sermons and ascetical treatises most of which were collected and published by S. Brunner (Ratisbon, 1851). His method of curing the sick was continued after his death by his friend and disciple Joseph Forster, pastor of Hüttenheim, who died in 1875.

So when you read all of Macaulay's comments about Saint Thomas More and his belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, you realize it's pretty faint praise. Macaulay's point in reviewing von Ranke's History of the Popes is to emphasize that the Catholic Church, in spite of all of the progress England and enlightened Protestant Europe had made, was still powerful and dominant, because, he thought, still so superstitious and simple. 

This review is the source of the famous quotation about the Catholic Church being just as strong as she ever has been "when some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul’s." Again, when you read the rest of his review, you realize that Macaulay does not think that it is a good thing that this may be true, because it just means that progress has failed to triumph over an institution that has "stood its ground in spite of the immense progress made by the human race in knowledge since the days of Queen Elizabeth." (Elizabeth I, of course, since Macaulay did not know of the Second!) 

There is a book about Mrs. Ann Mattingly of Washington, D. C. and her miraculous cure in 1824! And I've ordered a copy!

Sunday, May 23, 2021

COVID-19 and Ecumenism at the Eighth Day Institute

Our Eighth Day Institute 4th annual Florovsky-Newman Week is coming up, May 31 to June 5, including an Icon workshop, a separate seminar, and a festal banquet before the presentation of plenary and academic papers. Our topic this year is Baptism:

The Patristic View of Baptism: Public Proclamation or Salvific Sacrament?

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

The plenary speakers are Matthew Levering (Catholic), Marcus Plested (Orthodox) and Charles Raith II (Protestant). Here's the schedule of their presentations--which include responses from the other speakers.

I'm giving one of the academic papers Thursday or Friday morning (don't know the full schedule yet):

Newman’s “Religious Opinions” and Infant Baptism

John Henry Cardinal Newman, recently canonized by the Catholic Church, wrote his Apologia pro Vita Sua in response to challenges to his integrity and honesty by Charles Kingsley in 1863. Newman had to answer Kingsley’s charge that truth didn’t matter to Catholic priests and that Newman had even stated that truth shouldn’t matter to Catholic priests and so he told the story of his conversion to demonstrate his integrity and honesty.

In four chapters Newman tells the history of his religious opinions: up to 1833, from 1833 to 1839, 1839-1841, and 1841-1845; after that he says he has “no further history of my religious opinions to narrate”. Before the crucial date of October 9, 1845 when he became a Catholic, Newman changed his mind several times about various religious matters—including Baptism and what it means to be baptized and a member of the Church.

This presentation will explore Newman’s thoughts about Baptism through a brief biographical sketch and an examination of an 1828 sermon he preached as Vicar of the University Church of St. Mary’s the Virgin in Oxford: “Infant Baptism”. 

EDI has been trying to present opportunities for fellowship and discussion during the COVID shut-downs, online, outside, and properly socially distanced. Registration is slow right out and we, the Director and the Board of Directors, hope it picks up soon. You can't really have ecumenical discussions, sharing different religious doctrines and theologies, online or virtually. One of the best things about the Florovsky Newman Week is the format of the plenary sessions. When the Catholic speaker presents a Catholic view, the Orthodox and Protestant speakers respond; when the Orthodox speakers presents his paper, the Protestant and the Catholic respond; when the Protestant presents, the Catholic and Orthodox--so there's real exchange of ideas and scholarly community.

We're hoping that registration picks up soon and we're thinking of incentives to bring more EDI members and friends to this great week. I enjoyed the 2018 and 2019 events. (Last year it had to be virtual event with online presentations!)

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Book Review: Essays on Catholic Emancipation, 1829 to 1929

This really is a book of its time: the publisher/editor assumed that everyone knew exactly who the authors were and why each one was qualified to write his or her particular essay. It's also a book in which Cardinal Newman is often mentioned in good standing and fond remembrance. 

Published on the 100th anniversary of Catholic Emancipation in England, Catholic Emancipation, 1829 to 1929: Essays by Various Writers with an Introduction by His Eminence Cardinal Bourne (Longmans, Green and Co., London, New York, Toronto, 1929) contains honest and informative analyses of how Catholics in England had succeeded or failed to take advantage of relative religious freedom in England throughout one hundred (100) years.


Introduction by His Eminence Cardinal Bourne [the fourth Archbishop of Westminster from 1903 to 1935; born in 1861; died in 1935]

I. Joy in Harvest--A Sequel to the Second Spring by Monsignor William Barry, DD (referring to St. John Henry Newman's famous "Second Spring" sermon of 1852)

II. The Catholic Church and the Spiritual Life by The Most Reverend Archbishop [Alban] Goodier, SJ [author of many books including Saints for Sinners] One very lovely line: "When he witnessed, in 1908, the Eucharistic Congress in London, Newman in heaven must indeed have thanked God." p. 43)

III. The Catholic Church and Education by Sir John Gilbert, KBE, KCSG [praises Newman's efforts to educate Catholics; deprecates the unfortunate decision by Henry Cardinal Manning, et al, preventing Catholic men from attending Oxford and Cambridge]

IV. The Catholic Church and Literature by Algernon Cecil [author and barrister; author of Six Oxford Thinkers, including Newman]

V. The Catholic Church and Science by Sir Bertram C.A. Windle, FRS, ScD, PhD [most interesting comment: Thomas Huxley was most influential in convincing Englishmen of the conflict between the Church and science]

VI. The Catholic Church and Music by Ernest Oldmeadow

VII. Catholics in Public Life by Viscount [Edmund Howard] Fitzalan

VIII. Catholic and Philanthropy by The Bishop of Brentwood [Arthur Doubleday]

IX. Religious Orders of Men by Abbot [Basil Christopher] Butler [of Downside Abbey; later Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster; born in 1902; died in 1986; he was a participant in and strong proponent of the Second Vatican Council; one of the youngest contributors to this volume]

X. Religious Communities of Women by Maud Monahan [I could not find any dates for her; she translated spiritual works and wrote about Janet Erskine Stuart, superior general of Society of the Sacred Heart]

XI. The Influence of Catholic Laywomen by Miss Margaret Fletcher [1862-1943; she became a Catholic in 1897 and was the founder of the Catholic Women's League]

XII. Statistical Progress of the Catholic Church by Rev. Herbert Thurston, SJ [author of many entries in the Catholic Encyclopedia; interested in Spiritualism and Madame Blavatsky; friend of  Father George Tyrrell, SJ of the Modernist Movement]

and, saving the best for last:

XIII. The Outlook by G.K. Chesterton [just seven (7) years after becoming a Catholic!!]

Perhaps among the most entertaining of the chapters before Chesterton's Outlook is Oldmeadow's analysis of music in Catholic cathedrals and churches (VI). He deplores the long-lasting legacy of the Embassy chapels, which presented many great professional soloists (especially Italian opera singers), thus discouraging the congregation from singing. Oldmeadow encourages instead the use of plainchant, Gregorian or otherwise, and welcomed Pope St. Pius X's 1903 motu proprio Tra le sollecitudini. One of the best passages in his chapter:

Rossini, with his flashy "Stabat Mater", found us an easy prey; and Gounod wound us round his little finger. The show-choirs rose to their showiest; their tenors shook shakes, their leading ladies trilled trills, and a little later on Mendelssohn's "Lauda Sion" was thought to be the most lofty and severe of Church music. Yet there might have been unison singing from every throat and celestial polyphony from a few divinely favored choristers. (p. 135)

Throughout most of the chapters, the constant themes are the patchwork method of repealing penal acts against Catholics, the influx of Irish Immigrants, the influence of French religious and priests (welcomed into England during and after the French Revolution), the growth in schools and colleges, the importance of converts, the development of religious orders (for both men and women), the impact of World War I on how the English viewed Catholics after serving as soldiers, sailors, chaplains, nurses, etc.

One of the most frustrating chapters was on the influence of Catholic laywomen in England between 1829 and 1929. Miss Margaret Fletcher begins with some stirring images as she begins to describe the progress of Catholic laywomen and the "woman's movement":

When in 1829 Emancipation was at last granted, and Catholic women realised that henceforth they would not form part of the quarry of a slackened hunt, they knew themselves to be in many ways scarred and spent by the long chase; and yet at the same time to be gloriously free. They had acquired a spiritual fortitude and had preserved an inner moral liberty which were not characteristics of English women at the beginning of the nineteenth century. (p. 225)

Although she recounts how English Catholic laywomen rejected some aspects of the international woman's movement, I was never sure what influence they really exerted in England. Fletcher intends to sketch the history of their efforts in meetings and publications but uses so much passive voice that I don't know who did what--perhaps she was too reticent to describe her own activity and achievements.

Now to Chesterton's Outlook: he was was the right person to write that chapter: his hopeful innocence and insightful wisdom are evident throughout his contribution:

. . .Whole aspects of Catholic doctrine and tradition, hidden by historical accident and the special quarrels of recent times, will be revealed to the world when it begins to address new questions to the Church. This is a point that has not been sufficiently stressed in the relations between Protestantism and Catholicism. Very often a Protestant was not only a man merely protesting, but a man merely protesting against a particular thing. He sometimes thought that thing was Rome; but it was really only one of the thousand aspects of Rome. When new aspects appear under new searchlights, he will be not so much defeated as simply outside the affair. A Baptist disapproves of baptising babies; a Presbyterian disapproves of bishops; a Prohibitionist disapproves of beer, and so on. But a Presbyterian, as such, has nothing very special to say about the Subconscious Mind. A Baptist as such has nothing special to say to a Behaviorist as such. But a Catholic may have a great deal to say to these people.

For the Catholic commentary on life has gone on so much longer, it has covered so many different social conditions, has dealt so carefully with countless fine shades of metaphysics or casuistry, that it really has a relation to almost any class of speculation that may arise. Thus, in the matter of psychoanalysis and the study of the subconscious, the Church will probably be found sooner or later defending certain essentials about Will and Conscience against a welter of wild impersonality. Catholics remembering Catholicism will have a right and reason to do this. But Calvinists who have half forgotten Calvinism have no particular reason to do it.

There is, for instance, one influence that grows stronger every day, never mentioned in the newspapers, not even intelligible to people in the newspaper frame of mind. It is the return of the Thomist Philosophy; which is the philosophy of common sense, as compared with the paradoxes of Kant and Hegel and the Pragmatists. The Roman religion will be, in the exact sense, the only Rationalistic religion. The other religions will not be Rationalist but Relativist; declaring that the reason is itself relative and unreliable; declaring that Being is only Becoming or that all time is only a time of transition ; saying in mathematics that two and two make five in the fixed stars, saying in metaphysics and in morals that there is a good beyond good and evil. Instead of the materialist who said that the soul did not exist, we shall have the new mystic who says that the body does not exist. Amid all these things the return of the Scholastic will simply be the return of the sane man. (pp. 278-279) 

There goes Chesterton, leading the way into the future, pointing out what the Catholic Church will need to offer the civilization and culture of the next hundred years:

But to say that there is no pain, or no matter, or no evil, or no difference between man and beast, or indeed between anything and anything else — this is a desperate effort to destroy all experience and sense of reality; and men will weary of it more and more, when it has ceased to be the latest fashion ; and will look once more for something that will give form to such a chaos and keep the proportions of the mind of man. Millions of men are already at least wondering whether this solution is not to be found in the Catholic order and philosophy.

Above all, the Church has regained that unique position in the world in a fair field and under the very reverse of favour; having had for a hundred years no more than the common right of speaking and publishing and voting in popular assemblies; and as her Master affirmed his divinity by becoming a man among men, she has become for a season a sect among sects, to emerge at the end as something separate or supreme. (p. 281)

As usual, he's almost too right; it's only too bad that we Catholics haven't held on tightly enough to the Common Sense of St. Thomas Aquinas! 

I'd say his chapter, Oldmeadow's and Goodier's on the spiritual life of English Catholics are the best in this book of insights, gratitude for the progress made, and acknowledgement of difficulties and even failures.

Monday, May 10, 2021

This Morning: Robert Louis Stevenson versus the Reverend Hyde

Just a reminder that I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show this morning to talk about Robert Louis Stevenson's defense of Father Damien de Veuster against an attack in a Presbyterian newspaper by a Reverend Doctor Charles McEwan Hyde in 1889.  I'll be on at my usual time, about 7:50 a.m. Eastern/6:50 a.m. Central. Please listen live here or on your local EWTN affiliate.

Pope Benedict XVI canonized Saint Damien de Veuster along with four other holy men and women in Rome on October 11, 2009. Here are a couple of excerpts from his homily on that occasion:

. . . "Come, follow me". This is the Christian vocation which is born from the Lord's proposal of love and can only be fulfilled in our loving response. Jesus invites his disciples to give their lives completely, without calculation or personal interest, with unreserved trust in God. Saints accept this demanding invitation and set out with humble docility in the following of the Crucified and Risen Christ. Their perfection, in the logic of faith sometimes humanly incomprehensible consists in no longer putting themselves at the centre but in choosing to go against the tide, living in line with the Gospel. This is what the five Saints did who are held up today with great joy for the veneration of the universal Church: Zygmunt Szczęsny Feliński, Francisco Coll y Guitart, Jozef Damien de Veuster, Rafael Arnáiz Barón and Mary of the Cross (Jeanne Jugan). In them we contemplate the Apostle Peter's words fulfilled: "Lo, we have left everything and followed you" (v. 28), and Jesus' comforting reassurance: "there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the Gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time... with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life" (vv. 29-30). . . .

Jozef De Veuster received the name of Damien in the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. When he was 23 years old, in 1863, he left Flanders, the land of his birth, to proclaim the Gospel on the other side of the world in the Hawaiian Islands. His missionary activity, which gave him such joy, reached its peak in charity. Not without fear and repugnance, he chose to go to the Island of Molokai to serve the lepers who lived there, abandoned by all. Thus he was exposed to the disease from which they suffered. He felt at home with them. The servant of the Word consequently became a suffering servant, a leper with the lepers, for the last four years of his life. In order to follow Christ, Fr Damien not only left his homeland but also risked his health: therefore as the word of Jesus proclaimed to us in today's Gospel says he received eternal life (cf. Mk 10: 30). On this 20th anniversary of the Canonization of another Belgian Saint, Bro. Mutien-Marie, the Church in Belgium has once again come together to give thanks to God for the recognition of one of its sons as an authentic servant of God. Let us remember before this noble figure that it is charity which makes unity, brings it forth and makes it desirable. Following in St Paul's footsteps, St Damien prompts us to choose the good warfare (cf. 1 Tim 1: 18), not the kind that brings division but the kind that gathers people together. He invites us to open our eyes to the forms of leprosy that disfigure the humanity of our brethren and still today call for the charity of our presence as servants, beyond that of our generosity. . . .

Both the U.S. Congress and President Barack Obama commemorated this canonization: Saint Damien de Veuster's statue in the National Statuary Hall Collection in the U.S. Capitol has been there since 1969.

I think that the standard biography is still John Farrow's Damien the Leper. By the way, John Farrow is Mia Farrow's father.

Saint Damien de Veuster, pray for us!

Friday, May 7, 2021

Preview: Saint Damien de Veuster's Defender

On Monday, May 10, I'll be back to my usual day and time on the Son Rise Morning Show to talk about St. Damien de Veuster (also called St. Damien of Molokai) and how the Scottish novelist Robert Louis Stevenson defended his reputation when it was attacked by a Protestant clergyman. So listen live here on EWTN or on your local EWTN affiliate at about 6:50 a.m. Central/7:50 a.m. Eastern. Matt Swaim will likely have the honor of interviewing me that morning, since the hosts alternate their opportunities!

Josef de Veuster was born on January 3, 1840 in Tremolo, Flanders, Belgium. He joined the order of the Fathers of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in Louvain (Leuven) when he was 20 years old and took the name in religion of Damien. (During my first visit to Belgium with my late husband I went to the St. Anthony's Church in Leuven, after he had been beatified; his shrine is in the crypt now.)

The photo to the upper right is of Father Damien in 1873 before he went to Hawaii and before he joined the leper colony on Molokai to serve the people there. He looks handsome, intense, sensitive, and strong. And he would have to be all that to serve the poor people suffering from Hansen's disease, exiled because at the time the causes of and treatments for that disease weren't known.

The leper colony was established under the Segregation Law of 1865 passed in Parliament and endorsed by King Kamehameha V of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi, who reigned from 1863 to 1872. According to this website:

It wasn’t until 1870 that the law was strictly enforced. The punishment, if anyone would be caught with the disease, would be forced internment in the Honolulu leprosy hospital for testing, then retesting in the Kalihi Hospital, and then banishment to the colony found on Molokai island. Any connection to the outside world would be terminated, and the person would be officially decreed as dead.

The island of Molokai was chosen as the official spot of the leprosy colony, due to its topography. This area was chosen by the Board of Health due to its numerous valleys and the hard to reach Kalawao and Kalaupapa Peninsulas. The colonies became torturous places, where stealing, destroying the land, alcoholism, and killing weaker people became the norm.

Father Damien then arrived to the peninsulas, begging to be the Catholic missionary to the diseased colonists. His arrival helped turn the colony around from a dangerous place, to a place filled with sadness and death, but with industrious people. He helped build better houses, create better water conditions, begged for medicines, arranged better burial practices, and reestablished the importance of farming. He lived among the people for fifteen years until he too contracted leprosy and died in Kalaupapa Peninsula.

Of course, he also served their spiritual needs of the people there, as the Catholic Diocese of Hawaii explains:

He brought hope to this hell of despair. He became a source of consolation and encouragement for his flock by becoming the doctor of their souls and of their bodies without distinction of race or religion. He gave a voice to the voiceless and built a community where they discovered new reasons for living. That once lawless place had now become a place where the law of love prevailed.

This website explores the ethical, social, and cultural implications of this medical segregation.

The photograph to the upper left is of Father Damien not long before he died, taken either in February or March of 1889. He's only 49 years old. He died on April 15 of that year but his feast is celebrated on May 10--in Hawaii, the date of his death is celebrated as a state holiday. His remains were buried in the church in Belgium in 1936 (perhaps on May 10? I'm still trying to find out why May 10th was chosen as his feast). In 1995, he was beatified; in 2005, he was chosen as the "Greatest Belgian of All Time"! and in 2009 he was canonized in Rome by Pope Benedict XVI.

But soon after his death a certain Presbyterian minister, the Reverend Doctor Charles McEwan Hyde wrote a letter attacking Father Damien de Veuster as this website describes:

Hyde had viciously calumniated Father Damien, soon after the saint’s death, in a letter to an inquiring fellow Presbyterian minister, a Rev. Gage, that was subsequently published that October, 1889, in an Australian newspaper, the Sydney Presbyterian. The reason that Gage had inquired of Hyde for information about Father Damien was that the whole world was then praising the deceased priest’s charity and heroism. Stevenson (himself a Presbyterian) had read that letter . . .

Robert Louis Stevenson, author and world-traveler (mostly because of his health) was in Hawaii at the time and had even consulted with Sister Marianne Cope on the status of the leper colony. He read that letter and replied, scathingly, using Hyde's own words and answering him:

And I take it, this is a type of our division; that you are one of those who have an eye for faults and failures; that you take a pleasure to find and publish them; and that, having found them, you make haste to forget the over-ailing virtues and the real success which had alone introduced them to your knowledge. It is a dangerous frame of mind. That you may understand how dangerous, and into what a situation it has already brought you, we will (if you please) go hand-in-hand through the different phrases of your letter, and candidly examine each from the point of view of its truth, its appositeness, and its charity.

Damien was COARSE.

It is very possible. You make us sorry for the lepers, who had only a coarse old peasant for their friend and father. But you, who were so refined, why were you not there, to cheer them with the lights of culture? Or may I remind you that we have some reason to doubt if John the Baptist were genteel; and in the case of Peter, on whose career your doubtless dwell approvingly in the pulpit, no doubt at all he was a “coarse, headstrong” fisherman! Yet even in our Protestant Bibles Peter is called Saint.

Damien was DIRTY.

He was. Think of the poor lepers annoyed with this dirty comrade! But the clean Dr. Hyde was at his food in a fine house.

Damien was HEADSTRONG.

I believe you are right again; and I thank God for his strong head and heart. . . .


Is this a misreading? or do you really mean the words for blame? I have heard Christ, in the pulpits of our Church, held up for imitation on the ground that His sacrifice was voluntary. Does Dr. Hyde think otherwise?


It is true he was allowed many indulgences. Am I to understand that you blame the father for profiting by these, or the officers for granting them? In either case, it is a mighty Spartan standard to issue from the house on Beretania Street; and I am convinced you will find yourself with few supporters.

You may read the entire letter here. It is a masterpiece of correction and even invective, concluding with a call from one Presbyterian (perhaps lapsed) to another:

Is it growing at all clear to you what a picture you have drawn of your own heart? I will try yet once again to make it clearer. You had a father: suppose this tale were about him, and some informant brought it to you, proof in hand: I am not making too high an estimate of your emotional nature when I suppose you would regret the circumstance? that you would feel the tale of frailty the more keenly since it shamed the author of your days? and that the last thing you would do would be to publish it in the religious press? Well, the man who tried to do what Damien did, is my father, . . . and the father of all who love goodness; and he was your father too, if God had given you grace to see it.

To his credit, the Reverend Doctor Hyde recanted, and Stevenson's public letter brought more attention to the leper colony and more donations poured in to help continue Father Damien's work and support Sister Marianne Cope's work (now she is a saint too!)

I don't expect Matt Swaim to be able to include this in our discussion, but the connection between perhaps the most popular of  Stevenson's novels, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, in view of the Reverend's last name, cannot be ignored. Now, the Reverend Hyde was not a monster without conscience like Stevenson's Hyde, but G.K. Chesterton offers us an insight into Stevenson's action in confronting the Reverend Hyde in the cause of truth, justice, and charity:

[The Strange Case of] Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
 is a double triumph; it has the outside excitement that belongs to Conan Doyle with the inside excitement that belongs to Henry James. Alas, it is equally characteristic of the Victorian time that while nearly every Englishman has enjoyed the anecdote, hardly one Englishman has seen the joke—I mean  the point. You will find twenty allusions to Jekyll and Hyde in a day's newspaper reading. You will also find that all such allusions suppose the two personalities to be equal, neither caring for the other. Or more roughly, they think the book means that man can be cloven into two creatures, good and evil. The whole stab of the story is that man can't: because while evil does not care for good, good must care for evil. Or, in other words, man cannot escape from God, because good is the God in man; and insists on omniscience. This point, which is good psychology and also good theology and also good art, has missed its main intention merely because it was also good story-telling. (p. 87 in The Victorian Age in Literature)

So the good in the Reverend Hyde responded to Stevenson's goodness to respect and recognize the goodness of Father Damien de Veuster, because only good would care for evil and would correct, through a chastened conscience, errors in judgment and compassion. And Stevenson responded to the good in Father Damien and appealed to the good in Reverend Hyde, having compassion for the errors both the Saint and his erstwhile critic might have committed.

May Reverend Charles McEwan Hyde rest in peace!
May Robert Louis Stevenson rest in peace!
Saint Damien de Veuster, pray for us!
Saint Marianne Cope, pray for us!

Monday, May 3, 2021

Preview: May the Fourth Be With You: The Catholic Martyrs of England and Wales

Tomorrow is May 4th, the Feast of the ALL the Catholic Martyrs of England and Wales in dioceses of England and throughout the Anglican Ordinariate. Anna Mitchell has asked me to discuss them on the Son Rise Morning Show tomorrow, at my usual time, 7:50 a.m. Eastern/6:50 a.m. Central. Please listen live here or on your local EWTN affiliate.

When we speak of ALL the Catholic Martyrs of England and Wales, it is a considerable number:

~54 were Beatified on December 29, 1886 by Pope Leo XIII (including Thomas More and John Fisher and 11 others who would later be canonized)

~Pope Leo also declared 30 martyrs Venerable on that date (which is the feast of St. Thomas of Canterbury)

~Pope Leo XIII beatified nine more martyrs on May 13, 1895

~136 more were beatified by Pope Pius XI on December 15, 1929 (29 of those martyrs would later be canonized

~Pope St. John Paul II beatified 85 more martyrs on November 22, 1987

So there are 42 canonized martyrs: St. Thomas More, St. John Fisher and the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales. There are 242 beatified martyrs; and 30 venerable martyrs--314 Martyrs of England and Wales! (Not counting the Irish martyr St. Oliver Plunkett or the Scottish martyr St. John Ogilvie.)

Their feast has been celebrated on May 4 since 2000 since that is the anniversary of the executions of the protomartyrs of the English Reformation under Henry VIII in 1535: The Carthusians John Houghton, Robert Lawrence, and Augustine Webster; the Briggitine Richard Reynolds, and the priest John Haile.

Since I first "appeared" on the Son Rise Morning Show in 2010, we've told the stories of many of these martyrs--Anna Mitchell, Matt Swaim, and I even completed a weekly series on the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales in 2020 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of their canonization! So tomorrow, I thought we'd focus on what these martyrs model for us: their courage, their constancy, and their conversion.

Courage is perhaps almost too obvious: they risked their lives by being true to Jesus and His Church, to the unity of the Church, to the celebration of the Sacraments, and the protection of priests. Since executions, either by burning, beheading, hanging, or hanging, drawing, and quartering were public, they knew the agonies they could or would suffer.

If they faced a court and were condemned, they would hear the judge announce (language alert) what they would suffer: you will be "laid on a hurdle and so drawn to the place of execution, and there to be hanged, cut down alive, your members to be cut off and cast in the fire, your bowels burnt before you, your head smitten off, and your body quartered and divided at the Queen's/King's will, and God have mercy on your soul."

To take two obvious examples, St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More heard those words and returned to their cells in the Tower of London, not knowing that Henry VIII would commute their death sentences to being beheaded, merely, on June 22 and July 6. The martyrs who suffered before them on May 4, 1535 heard those words and then suffered the full torture of that punishment as traitors to Henry VIII. The Carthusians were wearing their habits and St. John Houghton still wore his hair shirt. 

Condemned martyrs might have been spared part of the agony of that form of execution if they died by hanging before the evisceration, but they would not know that would happen, so faced agony as they were dragged through the streets to their place of execution; as the first suffered, the others witnessed what they would endure. Executioners could be efficient, or inept like the one who tortured Blessed Hugh Green, unable to locate his heart to cut it out of his chest (August 19, 1642). 

Before their trials and executions, they demonstrated courage through imprisonment and torture, especially during the Elizabethan era: hanging by the wrists, the rack, flogging, and the Scavenger's Daughter. Clamped in irons, kept in the Little Ease, where they neither stand upright or lie down completely--the Tudors especially practiced many forms of torture to break the spirit of the martyrs. St. Robert Southwell's father exhorted Queen Elizabeth I to try, convict, and even execute his son rather than leave him in such filth and darkness.

These English and Welsh martyrs give us a model of constancy: they remained true to their faith through all the dangers and difficulties. Some of the missionary priests returned to England again and again after imprisonment and exile. The missionary priests had to hide, travel constantly while the laity protecting them had to be on constant look out, always aware of their danger. In the midst of all the changes in religion, in doctrine, worship, and devotion occurring all around them, these lay martyrs remained true. They--and many who did not suffer martyrdom--paid the fines, prayed the Rosary of Our Lady, counting on their fingers if it was too dangerous to use beads, made Acts of Perfect Contrition and Spiritual Communions, joined their intentions to Masses celebrated throughout the world; hid their Catholic books, and tried their best to practice the Faith of their Fathers and Mothers. The pressure to conform to the Established Church of England must have been enormous, financially, legally, socially, and within the family: but they were constant.

This might seem contradictory, but they also give us models of conversion; we might also say of contrition and repentance. Unlike the Carthusian priors, all the abbots and priors of the monasteries and priories of England took the oaths Henry VIII demanded: but a few repented and returned to the Faith: the last Abbots of Glastonbury, Colchester and Reading Abbeys finally refused to surrender and dissolve their monasteries and thus suffered martyrdom (beatified by Pope Leo XIII on May 13, 1895).

St. Edmund Campion, SJ was a Catholic when Queen Mary visited his neighborhood in London; he was an Anglican when Queen Elizabeth I visited Oxford and he was on his way to a brilliant career in academe and the Church of England. But then reading the Fathers of the Church and talking to others who had returned to the Catholic Church made him pause, leave his career track, and become a Jesuit and then return to England as a priest. When he was martyred on December 1, 1581, another future martyr converted after some of Campion's blood splashed on him, and St. Henry Walpole, SJ left his study of the law, became a Jesuit, and was martyred on April 7, 1595.

Two of the three female saints canonized among the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales, St. Margaret Clitherow and St. Anne Line, were converts. when St. Anne Line, alias Anne Heigham Line  became a Catholic she and her brother William Heigham were disinherited and disowned by their Calvinist father. In 1586 she married Roger Line, another disinherited convert. Not long after their marriage Roger and her brother William were arrested for attending Mass and exiled from England. Roger lived in Flanders and died in 1594. 

Left without the financial support Roger had sent her from Flanders, Anne did not return to her father and renounce her Catholic faith; instead she managed a house in London established by Father John Gerard, SJ, as a refuge for Catholic priests, a dangerous occupation. She was arrested on Candlemas, the Feast of the Purification or Presentation on February 2, 1601 after helping the priest Blessed Francis Page, SJ escape arrest. Before she was hanged to death on February 27 that year she proclaimed: 

"I am sentenced to die for harbouring a Catholic priest, and so far I am from repenting for having so done, that I wish, with all my soul, that where I have entertained one, I could have entertained a thousand."
She is is a model of all three of these virtues: courage, constancy, and conversion.

Catholic Martyrs of England and Wales, pray for us!