Monday, November 29, 2021

Book Review: "Dog Songs", Poems by Mary Oliver

On the last Saturday of November, I went to Eighth Day Books to buy a certain book (Thoughts Matter by Mary Margaret Funk) and find some Christmas gifts or buy some gift certificates. I ended up buying another book for myself (how shocking!): Dog Songs: Poems by Mary Oliver.

The book had been placed on one of the benches in the poetry section: it was there waiting for me because I guess I needed it.

For the first time in 30 (thirty) years, I am without a dog. Our Norwich Terrier, Brandy (Mark bought her for me 2010) died early Wednesday morning (11/24) at the Emergency Veterinary Hospital: she had held out against a cancerous growth in her right nostril for 17 months. Late Tuesday night, however, she began to hemorrhage from that nostril. It was a bloody mess and I was a mess as I had to drive her across town to that hospital.

Mary Oliver obviously loved dogs, took care of many of them, and recognized how unique each one was, and in these poems, she recalls their idiosyncrasies, their similarities, and how they became part of her life as companions. 

I read through the poems over the weekend and recognized the dogs my late husband Mark and I (and then just me since January 2019) lived with from 1991 to 2021: Ruffis, Pallie, Amanda, Joey, and Brandy: how we talked to them and pretended they talked back, how we played with them and were silly with them, how we took care of them when they got sick or injured, how we got frustrated with them when they didn't behave, and how we praised them when they were good, and how we were with them at the end of their lives, and how we remembered and yes, mourned them.

As the publisher, Penguin, describes the book:

Mary Oliver's Dog Songs is a celebration of the special bond between human and dog, as understood through the poet's relationships to the canines that have accompanied her daily walks, warmed her home, and inspired her work. Oliver's poems begin in the small everyday moments familiar to all dog lovers, but through her extraordinary vision, these observations become higher meditations on the world and our place in it.

Dog Songs includes visits with old friends, like Oliver's beloved Percy, and introduces still others in poems of love and laughter, heartbreak and grief. Throughout, the many dogs of Oliver's life merge as fellow travelers and as guides, uniquely able to open our eyes to the lessons of the moment and the joys of nature and connection.

Here's a sequence of Brandy in the leaves in November of 2015:

I'm going to wait until spring time of 2022 to get a new (rescue) dog.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Preview: Venerable Edward Mico, SJ on the Son Rise Morning Show

On Monday, November 22, I'll talk with Matt Swaim or Anna Mitchell about another of the Venerable English Catholic martyrs on the Son Rise Morning Show (at my usual time, 7:50 am. Eastern/6:50 a.m. Central). Please listen live on EWTN Radio or on your local EWTN affiliate at my usual time, 7:50 a.m. Eastern/6:50 a.m. Central. 

In 1886 Pope Leo XIII declared 29 Martyrs of England and Wales to be Venerable. As Father John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary defines the term, Venerable is the:

Title given to the Servants of God after the state of their heroic virtue or martyrdom has been proved and a solemn decree to that effect has been signed by the Pope. (Etym. Latin venerabilis, from venerari, to regard with religious awe.)

Venerable Edward Mico, SJ, is one of these martyrs to be regarded with religious awe. He is listed among the 44 martyrs celebrated at the Venerable English College every December 1 with Vespers and the chanting of the Te Deum in gratitude. He was arrested, not just because he was a priest in England, but a Jesuit priest in England during the Popish Plot hysteria during the reign of Charles II. According to the Jesuits in Singapore:

Edward Mico was born in Essex, England of Catholic parents. At the age of about fifteen, he enrolled at the English College in Saint-Omer, Flanders and about four years later, he went to the English College in Rome. There Edward became acquainted with the Jesuits and later managed to get the permission of the Jesuit Father General to enter the Society [of Jesus]. . . . He was ordained on March 31, 1657. . . .

[He] may have gone to the English mission as early as 1661. He carried out his priestly ministry in Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorset and Sussex and served under three successive provincials during the last six years of his live. [sic]

Fr Mico accompanied Fr Thomas Whitbread, the English provincial when the latter visited the English Jesuit seminaries in Belgium in 1678.

Fathers Mico and Whitbread returned to England just as Titus Oates' Popish Plot was heating up. They were both ill in bed when Oates came to arrest them:

Before dawn of the morning of September 29, 1678, Oates and his armed soldiers forced their way into the Jesuit residence on Wild Street and found Frs Whitbread and Mico ill in bed and were told they were to sick to be moved. The Jesuit residence was next to that of the Spanish ambassador, Count Egmont and thus enjoyed the ambassador’s protection. Furthermore, Fr Mico was also the ambassador’s chaplain. When the soldiers insisted on taking the two priests to prison, the count appeared and forbade them to do so, threatening the intruders and reminded them that his property was immune from such searches. Oates, constrained by the ambassador’s demand, withdrew, leaving a dozen soldiers behind to guard against the two bedridden priests. As a departing gesture, some of the soldiers struck Fr Mico several times with their muskets and plundered his room looking for incriminating letters.

The exact date and location of Venerable Edward Mico's death is not clear; Joseph N. Tylenda, SJ, in his book Jesuit Saints and Martyrs: Short Biographies of the Saints, Blesseds, Venerables, and Servants of God of the Society of Jesus, Second Edition (Chicago: Loyola Press, 1998) notes that it might have been November 24, 1678 and that the name "Edward Micoe" is in the burial record for the church of St. Giles in the Fields on November 26, 1678, where other Popish Plot martyrs were buried, including the last victim, Saint Oliver Plunkett, the Archbishop of Armagh, Ireland.

Because Father Mico was bedridden, he never went to trial and may or may not have been moved to Newgate Prison. Father Thomas Whitbread was definitely tried and condemned, and executed at Tyburn on June 20, 1679--a most dramatic execution because he and the other four Jesuits were in the wagon with ropes around their necks when they were offered a pardon if they just admitted their guilt!

Venerable Edward Mico, pray for us!

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

The Scribe Eleazar and Another English Martyr!

So I was watching the EWTN Daily Mass yesterday as I do every morning. Father Joseph celebrated the Mass for the Weekday (not choosing either Saint Gertrude the Great or St. Margaret of Scotland) and offered his homily on the first reading from Second Maccabees, which I had posted on yesterday. He referred to a letter or note he had received from one of Mother Angelica's Poor Clares who is 90 years old: I think he said she's the last  of the nuns who had come to Alabama from Canton, Ohio, and she was reflecting on the Scribe Eleazar, who was 90 years old at the time of his martyrdom. (The Mass will be posted on EWTN's Daily Mass YouTube channel today so you may view his comments for more details.)

She used the phrase that she had not been told that she was to die (yet)--paraphrasing Blessed Richard Langhorne, the barrister and lay councillor to the Jesuits in England, a Popish Plot victim. Then Father Joseph read the poem Langhorne wrote when he'd been condemned to death:

O Blessed News!!

It is told me I must die.
O blessed news!
I must quit
Earth for Heaven.
My earthly prison for a liberty of joy,
My banishment for my true country.

I must pass
From time to eternity,
From misery to felicity,
From change to immutability.

I must go to fill
My spirit with a plenitude of light,
My will with a fullness of peace,
My memory with a collection of all goods,
My senses with a satiety of pleasures.

I go where I shall find
All things which I can desire,
Nothing which I can fear.
I shall no more want any good,
God shall be unto me all in all,
And my all for all eternity.

I shall see and I shall live,
I shall praise and I shall bless,
And this I shall forever do.

It is told me I must die,
Oh, what happiness!
I am going
To the place of my rest,
To the land of the living,
To the haven of security,
To the kingdom of peace,
To the palace of my God,
To the nuptials of the Lamb,
To sit at the table of my King,

To feed on His blessed sight,
To see what no eye hath seen,
To hear what no ear hath heard,
To enjoy what no mortal can conceive.

These English martyrs just follow me--or rather lead me--wherever I am!

Holy Maccabean martyrs, pray for us!
Blessed Richard Langhorne, pray for us!

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Eleazar the Scribe and Saints John Fisher and Thomas More

Today at Mass, the first reading is from the Second Book of Maccabees, chapter 6:18-31. This passage recounts the martyrdom of Eleazar the Scribe, who refused to eat pork--or even pretend to eat pork--at the command of the Greek ruler:

Those who were in charge of that unlawful sacrifice took the man aside because of their long acquaintance with him, and privately urged him to bring meat of his own providing, proper for him to use, and to pretend that he was eating the flesh of the sacrificial meal that had been commanded by the king, so that by doing this he might be saved from death, and be treated kindly on account of his old friendship with them. But making a high resolve, worthy of his years and the dignity of his old age and the grey hairs that he had reached with distinction and his excellent life even from childhood, and moreover according to the holy God-given law, he declared himself quickly, telling them to send him to Hades.

‘Such pretence is not worthy of our time of life,’ he said, ‘for many of the young might suppose that Eleazar in his ninetieth year had gone over to an alien religion, and through my pretence, for the sake of living a brief moment longer, they would be led astray because of me, while I defile and disgrace my old age. Even if for the present I would avoid the punishment of mortals, yet whether I live or die I will not escape the hands of the Almighty. Therefore, by bravely giving up my life now, I will show myself worthy of my old age and leave to the young a noble example of how to die a good death willingly and nobly for the revered and holy laws.’ (verses 21-28)

In the 1962 Roman Missal, the feast of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More is celebrated in England on July 9th (June 22nd is already the feast of the great protomartyr St. Alban; I'm not sure why July 9th was chosen over July 6th). Remember that Saint John Fisher suffered first on June 22 and Saint Thomas More on July 6 in 1535, beheaded rather than tortured as Eleazar was for the faith.

When I read this passage in July in the Supplement of special Masses for the Dioceses of England and Wales in the Baronius Press version of the 1962 Roman Missal, and when I heard it read on the Bible in A Year podcast last month, I thought how appropriate this selection was for these English martyrs' feast, for both of them were urged to take Henry VIII's Oaths of Succession and Supremacy while withholding their consent in some way, or just going along with the majority for the sake of peace.

Saint John Fisher faced the crisis first at the June 21,1529 Legatine Court hearings at Blackfriars in London  when the Archbishop of Canterbury William Warham had added his name to the bishops' affidavit without his knowledge or consent. Fisher spoke up boldly that he had not consented to the King's wishes at all and would not. He denied that he had signed or sealed the document--that it was against his conscience. He furthermore reminded the embarrassed Warham that he had told the Archbishop that he would never sign or seal such a document. Warham was silent (consent?) but Henry VIII dismissed Fisher's courageous stand with the comment that he was but one man.

Everyone knew, of course, that Fisher had displeased Henry VIII, and that to displease the king was a dangerous, fatal error. The very public venue of the dispute; Fisher's adamantine rejection of Warham's attempts to save face in front of the king, the Papal Legate, the Cardinal Archbishop of York and Lord Chancellor Thomas Wolsey; Fisher's reputation for learning and holiness--all of that, in the face of temporary defeat, Henry VIII ignored by refusing to contend with the Bishop of Rochester and dismissing his opposition as of no matter. He would win and Fisher would lose. And Fisher would endure an attempted poisoning, accusations in the matter of Elizabeth Barton, the Nun of Kent, and finally be imprisoned in the Tower of London, tried for Treason, condemned, and beheaded. It would seem that Henry had won.

Thomas More faced such pressures too, to go along, although in 1529, he was able to remain out of the fray as he was not as involved in the King's Great Matter (he wasn't selected as Lord Chancellor until late in October, 1529) because it was largely an ecclesiastical matter, a dispute between the King and the Convocation of Bishops. As Henry VIII's administration proceeded with the separation from the spiritual and ecclesiastical authority of the Pope, however, More had to present the king's positions and proposals to the House of Lords, etc., while still staying silent--relying upon the supposition of silence implying consent--on the validity of the King's first marriage, the papal annulment that had made it possible, and the even the processes of restricting/reforming the Catholic Church in England. In May 1532 he had to resign after the Bishops presented the Submission of the Clergy. 

After his retirement, in 1534 he was called to swear the Oath of Succession, and as we know was imprisoned in the Tower of London until his trial on July 1, 1535 and again until his execution on Tower Hill on July 6th because he had refused. His daughter Margaret More Roper was allowed to visit him in the Tower--after taking the oath herself--to persuade him to do likewise. They exchanged letters on conscience in response to Thomas Audley's effort to point out More's folly, in which:

More proceeds to tell her about Company, “an honest man from another quarter,” who cannot agree with the questionable verdict rendered by his fellow eleven jurors. Angered that Company is stubbornly getting in the way of their decision, the eleven urge him to be “Good Company” and agree with their verdict. Open to the possibility of correction, Company says that while he already has considered the matter, he would like the eleven “to talk upon the matter and tell him … reasons“ he should change his mind. After the jury declines his offer, Company decides to keep to his own company; otherwise, ”the passage of [his] poor soul would passeth all good company.“ As More reminds Margaret, he himself ”never intended (God being my good lord) to pin my soul to another man’s back … for I know not whether he may hap to carry it.“

He wrote her letters to describe the questioning he received in the Tower to swear the oaths (now of Succession and Supremacy). She finally had to accept that he would not swear those oaths, even to be reunited with the family he loved so much, nor would he dissemble, swear the oaths publicly and withhold consent inwardly. He would be merrily true to the Truth of Christ and His Catholic Church throughout the centuries and not consent to Henry VIII and his Church of England in the Sixteenth Century.

To sum it up, like the Scribe Eleazar, Fisher and More refused to violate their formed consciences, to renounce their integrity, break faith with the Covenant or the Church, or even present a false front to avoid conflict and ultimately execution.

Holy Maccabean Martyrs, pray for us! (honored on some Eastern Orthodox calendars on August 1)
Saint John Fisher, pray for us!
Saint Thomas More, pray for us!

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Some Notes on Newman's Developing View of The Church

From The Newman Review, Pablo Blanco (PhD '97, ThD '05), who teaches at the University of Navarra, writes about Newman's developing views of ecclesiology from 1825 to 1835:
This article follows Newman’s writings mainly with a systematic (thematic) methodology; it does not, however, ignore the historical, since we can best see Newman’s ecclesiology evolve within his historical context.[1] In his Evangelical years, the adolescent Newman distrusted “material elements,” including, of course, the visible church, but after his Anglican ordination, the (then) vicar of St. Clement’s began to preach on various aspects of the church as one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.”[2] The cumulative effect of the theological debates at Oxford, together with his pastoral experience and personal reflections, gradually led Newman to a more high church ecclesiological approach, especially on visibility, invisibility, and apostolicity of the church.

In a sermon delivered on 26 October 1835, entitled The Church Visible and Invisible, Newman affirmed that “the sight of the sins of Christians has led us to speak” of both dimensions (visible and invisible dimensions of the church), despite the fact that such expression has no biblical basis: “Scripture does not speak of two bodies, one visible, the other invisible.” This leads him to claim unity between the two, although conceptually and categorically we differentiate them: “we view it as, on the whole, but one in different aspects.” It is like differentiating between concave and convex. Thus, the church is “as Visible, because consisting (for instance) of clergy and laity—as Invisible, because resting for its life and strength upon unseen influences and gifts from Heaven.”[3] . . .

I found the article very interesting because I had delivered a presentation the annual Eighth Day Institute Florovsky-Newman Week this summer on "Newman’s “Religious Opinions” and Infant Baptism" which touched on this issue of ecclesiology: is the invisible Church made up of the elect who commune with baptized but unsaved Christians in their parish churches? or is the Visible Church made up of Baptized, regenerated Christians, each on their way to personal sanctification and salvation, some further along, some going backwards, but all of them part of the Church Jesus founded and promised to remain with forever? Is Baptism a Sacrament, infusing God's Grace into the Soul, or it just an ordinance, symbolic of a personal decision and commitment?

I looked at the years from 1816 to 1828, focused on the Church and Baptism. I referenced sermons from his diaconate service at St. Clement's and then those he preached as Vicar of St. Mary the Virgin, consulting the Apologia pro Vita Sua and a book by Father James Tolhurst, The Church . . . A Communion in the Preaching and Thought of John Henry Newman. (I also discussed the different influences on Newman from Mayers to Scott and Whately and Hawkins from Calvinist to Anglican views.)

Father Blanco looks at the years from 1828 to 1835, and includes references to Newman's contributions to the Tracts of the Times.

The most important thing to note about this period of Newman's life, which he points out in his Apologia pro Vita Sua, is that he terms these developments in ecclesiology, soteriology, etc as "Religious Opinions". After his October 9, 1845 conversion he notes that does need these religious opinions, based on private judgment, anymore. The first four chapters repeat the term "Religious Opinions"; Chapter Five doesn't: "The Position of My Mind Since 1845" is the title and Newman explains the depths of his faith in Jesus and His Church and the ease, peace, contentment, lack of anxiety or doubt, and happiness he has felt since becoming a member of "the one, true fold of Christ":

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.

When our Lovers of Newman group gets together every month on the third Sunday, we usually reflect at least a little bit upon when he wrote the sermon and at what stage of his "religious opinions" he was in at that time. Then we focus on what he wrote, how he wrote it, and what we take from it as spiritual or moral inspiration and insight.

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Preview: Martinmas and Armistice Day on the Son Rise Morning Show

Tomorrow, Monday, November 8, I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show to discuss the upcoming celebrations of the feast of Saint Martin of Tours, Armistice Day (in Europe) and Veterans Day (in the USA). Please listen live on EWTN Radio or on your local EWTN affiliate at my usual time, 7:50 a.m. Eastern/6:50 a.m. Central. You should have all your clocks set correctly for Daylight Savings Time by then!

St. Martin of Tours is the first non-martyr saint canonized by the Church before there really was a process for canonization. He is a confessor for Christ. He is best known and most frequently depicted as a soldier mounted on a horse, handing half of his cloak to a beggar. (El Greco pictures him as a 16th century Spaniard.)  After his conversion, brought about by a visit from Jesus revealing Himself to have been that beggar, Martin left the Roman army, became a hermit, and eventually was ordained priest and bishop. We have an early life written by Sulpicius Severus, who knew him! Martin was born in Pannonia, which is now in Hungary, in 316 or 336 A.D. and had become a catechumen in the Church--when the preparation for receiving the Sacraments of the Initiation took much longer than it does now--before he began to serve the Emperor Julian (Julian the Apostate) in the Roman army.

Martin finally decided he had to chose between Jesus and Julian and he chose Jesus and refused to fight in a battle in Germany. He was jailed and offered to go unarmed at the head of the troops into battle but because there was peace treaty, was allowed to leave the army.

St. Martin upheld the Church's true doctrine about the Divine Person of Jesus Christ, opposing the Arians and supporting St. Hilary of Poitiers against those heretics. Martin established monasteries: Liguge Abbey and Marmoutier Abbey near Tours; he really wanted to live as a hermit or monk but was selected as the bishop of Tours in 371; he died on November 8, 397 and his cult spread quickly. 

More about Martinmas, one of those feasts that anchored the Medieval year in custom and liturgical observance:

Famous for his generosity towards a drunken beggar, with whom he shared his cloak, St Martin is the patron saint of beggars, drunkards and the poor. As his feast day falls during the wine harvest in Europe, he is also the patron saint of wine growers and innkeepers.

As Martinmas coincided with the gathering in of the harvest, during the Middle Ages it was a time for feasting, to celebrate the end of autumn and the start of preparations for winter. Martlemass beef, salted to preserve it for the winter, was produced from cattle slaughtered at this time. Traditionally, goose and beef were the meats of choice for the celebrations, along with foods such as black pudding and haggis.

Martinmas is also a Scottish term day. The Scottish legal year is divided into four term and quarter days: Candlemas [February], Whitsunday [May], Lammas [August] and Martinmas [November]. On these days servants would be hired, rent would be due and contracts would begin or end. Traditionally therefore, Martinmas was also the time of hiring fairs, at which agricultural labourers and farm hands would seek employment.

Liturgically, the feast of St. Martin of Tours ends the Octave of All Souls Day, an intense period of prayer for Holy Souls in Purgatory. 

Interesting note: Martin Luther was baptized on November 11, 1483, and thus was named for the saint! 

Like Saint Joan of Arc, St. Martin of Tours was a popular saint in France during times of war and particularly in the First World War. In the November issue of the Magnificat prayer book, Anthony Esolen provides us with the link between the feast of St. Martin of Tours and Armistice Day, when the fighting of World War I ended on the Western Front and Germany surrendered. 

Marshall Ferdinand Foch, the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and Lord Admiral Rosslyn Wemyss, the British legate, met the representatives of Germany and Austria-Hungary in the forest of Compiegne early in the morning of November 11, 1918. As Esolen explains, the Armistice "will go into effect, by Foch's order, at 11 AM, the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Foch, whose brother [Germain] was a [Jesuit]priest, had in mind Saint Martin, that soldier for peace." (p. 206) 

Between that early morning armistice and the cessation of battle, 
2,738 men died.

Foch came to the United States in 1921 to be present at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri on November 1. On November 6 he was made the one millionth member of the Knights of Columbus during Mass at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago, Illinois, and he was also present at the Armistice Day celebrations at Arlington Cemetery. Sadly, he knew the Armistice was not a true peace treaty; he predicted it would last only 20 years. He died on March 20, 1929 and is buried in the Hôtel des Invalides in Paris.

Image Credit (shared under a CC BY-SA 4.0): Tomb of Ferdinand Foch – Hôtel des Invalides

In 1954, Armistice Day, an official holiday in the USA since 1928, became known as Veterans Day, a Federal Holiday to honor all Veterans.

Saint Martin of Tours, pray for us!

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Tracking Down an English Pastoral Letter of 1875

In September I read and reviewed Owen F. Cumming's introductory study of Saint John Henry Newman, rather unfavorably, I think one could say. 

One comment he made in the chapter on the First Vatican Council (1869-1870) about the reception of the work of the Council, especially on Papal Infallibility, puzzled me:

The English bishops, for example, did not issue a joint pastoral letter on Vatican I until their Low Week meeting of 1875, five years later. What they came up with on that occasion was essentially an acknowledgement of the rights of local bishops. A bishop was not simply a papal vicar. (p. 130)

There's no footnote to the source of this information. So I tried to find information about this unnamed joint pastoral letter. Here's what I found:

At least two individual bishops issued pastoral letters: Manning and Ullathorne. I found this information in an article (located at by Christian D. Washburn, "The First Vatican Council, Archbishop Henry Manning, and Papal Infallibility", published in The Catholic Historical Review, Volume 102 (4), pp. 712-745– Dec 9, 2016. Professor Washburn argues that Manning wasn't the "extreme ultramontanist" we think he was.

Manning published The Vatican Council and Its Definitions: A Pastoral Letter to the Clergy; Ullathorne (Newman's Bishop) The Council and Papal Infallibility: A Letter Addressed to the Clergy and the Laity of the Diocese of Birmingham. (It's interesting that Ullathorne included the laity. In the midst of The Rambler crisis, Bishop Ullathorne asked Newman "Who are the laity?" Newman recorded his response, cited in Coulson's book on the issue, "I answered (not in these words) that the Church would look foolish without them".)

There was a joint effort, beginning in 1875, of the bishops of England to deal with the establishment of schools by the Society of Jesus. According to this overview of the Historiography of the Jesuits in Britain in the Late Modern Period by Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J.:

The issue between the Jesuits and the bishops came to a head in 1875 over the efforts of the Jesuits to establish a college in the city of Manchester over the objection of the ordinary, Herbert Vaughan (1832–1903; bishop of Salford 1872–92; archbishop of Westminster 1892–1903; created cardinal 1893).19 The Jesuits had had a church in the city since 1869 and the provincial, Peter Gallwey (1820–1906; in office 1873–76), maintained this fact gave them the right to establish a college, even without the bishop’s permission, according to privileges that had been granted them by the Holy See with the approval of their Constitutions in 1540, and renewed with their restoration in 1814, and this he proceeded to do. Vaughan took his case to Rome where the Jesuit general was prevailed upon to order the school closed, but without any judgment on the matter of Jesuit privileges vis à vis the bishops’ authority.20

That was not a satisfactory resolution for the bishops of the issue between them and the religious orders, especially the Jesuits, over the privileges of regulars versus the authority of bishops. A number of the bishops, especially Cardinal Manning (1808–92, archbishop of Westminster 1865–92, created cardinal 1875), wanted the issue of episcopal jurisdiction over religious resolved once and for all, and Manning pressed his fellow bishops to refer the matter to Rome for settlement. When the matter was finally resolved with the issuance of the apostolic constitution
Romanos pontifices, it was a decisive victory for the bishops, and religious orders could not open new schools or colleges, residences or churches without the express permission of the ordinary.21 The Constitution would govern the relations between bishops and religious orders not only in Britain but worldwide until the revision of canon law in 1917.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia,this had been an issue for more than two decades:

The restoration by Pius IX, 29 Sept. 1850, by letters Apostolic "Universalis ecclesiæ" of the hierarchy in England, and the consequent transition to the new order of things, necessarily gave rise to misunderstandings and discussion in various matters of jurisdiction and discipline, particularly between the episcopate and religious orders. Bishops, as was incumbent upon them, strenuously maintained the rights of the hierarchy, while religious superiors were loath to surrender prerogatives previously exercised. The chief points of controversy related to the exemption of regulars from the jurisdiction of bishops; the right of bishops to divide parishes or missions conducted by regulars, and to place secular priests in charge of these newly-created missions; the obligation of regulars engaged in parish work to attend conferences of the clergy and diocesan synods; the force of their appeal from synodal statutes; their liberty to found new houses, colleges and schools, or to convert existing institutions to other purposes; the right of bishops to visit canonically institutions in charge of regulars; and certain financial matters. Individual bishops sought to cope with the situation until finally a proposition of Cardinal Manning, made in an annual meeting of the English hierarchy in 1877, to submit these difficulties to Rome for definite settlement, met with unanimous approval. In July, 1878, the bishops of Scotland formally associated themselves with their English brethren in the controversy. Negotiations were opened with Propaganda, but Cardinal Manning later suggested to Pope Leo XIII the appointment of a special commission to examine the claims of the contestants and to prepare a constitution. Repeated delays ensued, so that it was not until 20 Sept., 1880, that a special commission of nine cardinals chosen to consider the question had its first sitting. Four other sessions followed, and in Jan., 1881, a report was made to the pope. Finally the constitution "Romanos Pontifices", of Leo XIII was issued 8 May of the same year, defining the relations in England and Scotland between bishops and religious. This constitution has been extended to the United States (25 Sept., 1885), to Canada (14 March, 1911), to South America (1 Jan., 1900), to the Philippine Islands (1 Jan., 1910), and quite generally to missionary countries.

Please read the rest there.

So I still haven't found a joint pastoral letter by the English bishops issued in 1875--but maybe this is what Owen F. Cummings was referencing? If I could consult The English bishops and the first Vatican Council by Frederick J Cwiekowski, S.S., perhaps I'd be sure.

Image Source (Public Domain): Pope Leo XIII