Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Belloc on Gardiner and More


Just a reminder that Anna Mitchell--still recovering from the Sacred Heart Radio fundraiser yesterday--and I will discuss what Hilaire Belloc thinks of Stephen Gardiner and Mary I, the first Tudor Queen Regnant of England and Wales (and parts of Ireland). Listen live here a little after 6:45 a.m. Central/7:45 a.m. Eastern.

Belloc offers some comments on Gardiner's concern about the division that would take place in England because of Henry VIII's takeover of the Church in England--and compares Gardiner to St. Thomas More:

But here we may note a curious point. When it came to the danger of schism Gardiner had about him a touch of hesitation. It was only a touch, but it is significant of what was to come. He was still whole-heartedly in favour of that absolute kingly government and of that strong national feeling which went with it; he was still as much opposed as ever to the political Papal claims over temporal sovereigns, and especially over his own sovereign; and when the decision had to be taken he was ready to accept the supremacy of Henry over the Church of England, and even to defend it, as we shall see. 

I pointed out in the case of Saint Thomas More, that to be so farsighted as to discern what the schism would ultimately mean was granted to very few. The average Englishman was with the King against the Pope in that particular quarrel — hoping vaguely perhaps that it would soon be patched up as so many others had been, but not connecting it in any way with doctrine. Therefore Gardiner, in every sense the average Englishman, followed the same road. 

Yet he did show a slight hesitation when the exact formula by which the King's supremacy should be first hinted at was introduced into the debates of the clergy. It should always be remembered in this connection that the Royal Supremacy was not, in the first steps towards it, represented as schismatical; the full schism was only arrived at by degrees and after a series of steps, each of which, save the last, might be twisted or argued into orthodoxy. 

Belloc also offers some comments on Gardiner's death, including his famous last words:

That which he had never thought possible, the presence of an anti-Catholic government in England — the destruction of the Mass — the unscrupulous despoiling of Guild property — the oversetting of all Shrines — the wanton destruction of Churches — had proved to him what the fruits of disunion might be. But for the schism, which he had approved, such things could not have come to pass; and now he was determined to undo the schism and worked with all his might for the restoration of England to the unity of Christendom, which he had the great privilege to see accomplished before he died. As he died he gave the famous cry, Negavi cum Petro, exivi cum Petro, sed non flevi cum Petro: "I denied as Peter did, I went out as Peter did, but I have not wept as Peter did."

So he had never truly repented of what he had done to destroy the Catholic Church in England by cooperating with Henry VIII, Thomas Cromwell, and Thomas Cranmer. Nevertheless, Belloc avers that both Gardiner and Mary thought they had done all they could to restore the Catholic Faith in Catholic England:

She died as her mother had died, hearing the Mass which was being said in her death-chamber in the early hours of a dark winter's morning; and it is pathetic but pleasant to remember that as she died she said that angel children were about her bed. 

With her death the whole gang immediately seized power, using Elizabeth whom she had spared and whom she had regarded as her successor, because she had been deceived by the violent protestations of Catholic loyalty on the part of that Princess. With the death of Mary and the advent of Elizabeth began that slow and ultimately successful effort to drive the Mass out of England and destroy Catholicism in the people. 

But Mary died under the impression that the situation had been met, and that the national religion, to which the great majority of Englishmen still adhered, was no longer in grave or imminent peril. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Belloc on the English Gardiner and the Spanish Mary

Anna Mitchell and I will continue our discussion of Hilaire Belloc's Characters of the Reformation tomorrow morning. I hope you are enjoying it--but there will be a break in our bi-weekly pattern as the Son Rise Morning Show takes the week of Christmas off. Early in the New Year, perhaps on January 3, we will continue the series: Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots!!

Tomorrow, however, we will discuss Belloc's takes on Stephen Gardiner, the Bishop of Winchester, and Queen Mary I, Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon's only surviving child. In the chapter on Gardiner Belloc sets up a theme: being truly English:

The figure of Stephen Gardiner is not among the very great figures of the English Reformation, or at any rate not quite in the first flight. On this account it has been in great part neglected, and quite unduly neglected, because although he did not mold events nor decide the general course of the movement, there is one reason for which all those who desire to understand the great disaster should make themselves well acquainted with this man. This reason is that he was the typical Englishman of the day. 

 If you follow the fortunes of Stephen Gardiner's soul, the fluctuation of his opinion, his utter devotion to national feeling, his original error on this account, his gradual awakening to the peril in which religion lay — his whole career, especially on its spiritual internal side — then you understand the England of the time. Henry the King, impulsive and very vain, was certainly not a typical Englishman. Even Mary Tudor, with her half Spanish blood and her isolated mind, could not be called typical of the country; Cranmer was not, for he was too much of an artist and much too much of a time-server and a coward to be typical of any ordinary healthy normal citizen of any time or place. Elizabeth was still less typical of England, for both by her talents and by her diseases of body and soul she was an abnormality. 

But Gardiner is the true Englishman of the time in body and mind and everything else. And that is his importance; understanding him, you understand the English Reformation, or rather you understand the kind of average citizen upon whom the catastrophe fell. It is, therefore, a great loss to history that even highly educated men have heard so little of him. For a hundred men who have heard of Henry, for fifty who have heard of Cranmer, perhaps one could tell you who Stephen Gardiner was.

Belloc brings up the heresy trials and burnings of Protestants (and those any orthodox Christian would consider believing in heresies about the Person of Jesus etc) and Gardiner's involvement:

There is one last point to be made with regard to him, and that is his attitude towards the prosecutions of the revolutionaries for heresy rather than for treason. Because he was Chancellor, because he was Mary's right-hand man and the most prominent of the Catholic protagonists, the symbol of tradition in the national religion, he was until recently almost universally accused by our official historians of particular harshness and even cruelty in the treatment of the heretics after the new policy began.

Now what was his real attitude towards it? We have no need for reluctance in the matter. The government had a perfect right to treat a small rebel minority, which was working for the destruction of religion and of the Monarch as well, as public enemies; it was rather a matter of policy than of morals whether the rebels should be treated as heretics or as traitors. But was Gardiner as a fact prominent in the prosecutions? Was he a leading spirit in them? It may be doubted or even denied.

As Chancellor it was of course his business to preside over the affair; but it is to be remarked that he took pains to save men from the consequences of their error, that he personally helped some of those most in danger to escape from the country, and in his own great diocese there were no executions. That was due in part, of course, to the fact that the poison had not reached the western country parts over which that diocese extended; it was only virulent in London, one or two seaport towns and certain sections of East Anglia and the Home Counties.

But still, from all that we know of the nature of the man and of his policy in other things, we may fairly conclude that if he had had a free hand he would have been in favour of Philip of Spain's policy and not of that of the Council. He would, I think, had he had a free hand, have made a few examples by prosecuting for treason; but he would have prevented the wholesale prosecutions for heresy. For that was what Mary's Spanish husband had urged: to repress treason rather than heresy. But Paget and the council, to show their English independence, rejected the foreigner's counsel.


I find it interesting that Belloc emphasizes Mary's "Spanishness": she was no more Spanish than he was French (and Belloc was born in France; his father was French and his mother English) in her feeling for the English people. He seems to use this foreignness (and she had never even been to Spain!) and her isolation and loneliness as the most long-suffering of Henry VIII's children as  excuses for the errors of her reign:

The true picture of Mary Tudor is that of a woman simple in character, like her mother, somewhat warped by isolation, devout, thoroughly virtuous, led of necessity by her all-powerful Council but in some points insisting upon her own will, and without too much judgment. She was also a woman suffering, like all Henry's children, from bad health, and dying early; a woman who was thoroughly representative in her religion of the bulk of the nation, and yet who was somewhat out of touch with the spirit of the nation in important matters, such as that of her Spanish marriage. It is further true that had she lived a few years longer England would probably be Catholic to-day, and had she had a child England would certainly be Catholic to-day. For the English people had always loved her and always regarded her as their true Queen and would not have tolerated the rivalry of anyone against her descendants. 

Mary Tudor was born in 1516, on February 18, when Henry and his wife Catherine of Aragon had been happily married for less than seven years, when the young King was still devoted to his wife and when everything was going well. . . .

She was in her fourteenth year when the great trial was held under Wolsey and Campeggio in London by which Henry hoped to obtain his divorce from her mother, Queen Catherine. She was already quite able to understand every- thing that was happening and to burn with indignation against the abominable way in which her mother was being treated. She was a woman grown, in her eighteenth year, when Anne Boleyn was crowned Queen and was therefore in a position to heap indignity and insult not only on the legitimate Queen (who was now exiled from Court) but on the legitimate heiress to the English throne, Mary herself. 

It was at such an age — eighteen — that Mary saw the illegitimate child of her mother's rival — the baby Elizabeth — proclaimed heiress to England and herself legally bastardized. Finally, when she lost her chief support by her mother's death, she was within six weeks of her twentieth birthday. All that youth of hers had been passed in the one preoccupation of the shameful affair which was bitterly disastrous and humiliating to her.

That last comment about the humiliation of how her mother was discarded and she was rejected because of the affair and the "divorce" shows me that Belloc sympathized with what Mary had endured. Yet, he does not make the point directly that Mary had to work with Stephen Gardiner, her Chancellor, who had aided and abetted her father's "Great Matter" and his take over of the Catholic Church. He had, as Belloc noted in the previous chapter, thoroughly supported Henry VIII in both the divorce and his Supremacy: while he repented of the latter, it's not clear what he thought about the former by the time Mary came to the throne. 

Belloc does take issue with how Catholic historians have defended or apologized for the burnings and Mary's part in the them:

But the curious thing is that those who should be the defenders of true, that is Catholic, history, have helped to perpetuate the legend by doing no more than answer individual points in it and not dealing with its falsity as a whole. 

For instance, they point out that if Mary persecuted she was only acting according to the spirit of the time; that if she put to death a great number of Protestants, so under Elizabeth were put to death a great number of Catholics — and so on. They imply the whole time that the main thesis of their opponents is true, namely, that England was already Protestant or at least was divided into two halves — Protestant and Catholic; that the initiative in the executions proceeded from Mary herself, and that her government had no right to check rebellion. 

When you meet the falsehood of an opponent by picking holes in the details of what he says, while still admitting his general thesis, you only confirm the error which he desires to propagate: the right way of meeting false propaganda is by the statement of the truth and the vigorous erection of a true picture which shall cancel the false one.

So the question would have to be: did Belloc succeed in establishing "a true picture"?

More tomorrow.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Blessed Arthur Bell, One of 85

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:

Friar Minor and English martyr, b. at Temple-Broughton near Worcester, 13 January, 1590; d. at London, 11 December, 1643. When Arthur was eight his father died and his mother gave him in charge of her brother Francis Daniel, a man of wealth, learning and piety, who sent him at the age of twenty-four to the English college at St.-Omer; thence he went to Spain to continue and complete his studies. Having been ordained priest, he received the habit of the Franciscan Order at Segovia, 8 August, 1618, and shortly after the completion of his novitiate was called from Spain to labour in the restoration of the English province. He was one of the first members of the Franciscan community at Douai, where he subsequently fulfilled the offices of guardian and professor of Hebrew. In 1632 Bell was sent to Scotland as first provincial of the Franciscan province there; but his efforts to restore the order in Scotland were unsuccessful and in 1637 he returned to England, where he laboured until November, 1643, when he was apprehended as a spy by the parliamentary troops at Stevenage in Hertfordshire and committed to Newgate prison.

The circumstances of his trial show Bell's singular devotedness to the cause of religion and his desire to suffer for the Faith. When condemned to be drawn and quartered it is said that he broke forth into a solemn Te Deum and thanked his judges profusely for the favour they were thus conferring upon him in allowing him to die for Christ. The cause of his beatification was introduced at Rome in 1900. He wrote "The History, Life, and Miracles of Joane of the Cross" (St.-Omer, 1625). He also translated from the Spanish of Andrew a Soto "A brief Instruction how we ought to hear Mass" (Brussels, 1624).

He was beatified in 1987 by Blessed John Paul II after being declared Venerable (through a decree of martyrdom) in 1986. He is 
remembered particularly at the shrine church of Our Lady of Consolation at West Grinstead in West Sussex, where Hilaire Belloc is buried. The church, as its website notes, was founded as a shrine to Our Lady of Consolation "in honour of Our Lady and in thanksgiving for the restitution of the Catholic Faith to England."

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Seven Martyrs at Tyburn and Gray's Inn

Seven English Catholic martyrs suffered brutal execution on December 10, 1591: three priests and four laymen, while one woman, wife/widow of one of the laymen remained in prison for eleven (11) years. We know how these men suffered, but to imagine what she endured! Remember that prisons in Elizabethan England were not what prisons are today: if she didn't have resources to pay for room and board; if she didn't have family and friends willing to help her, she suffered hunger, thirst, illness, filth, loneliness, danger . . . it's horrible to contemplate.

The enormity of this suffering, the brutal exercise of torture and hatred, the community of love and support among the martyrs: these seven deaths--and the long imprisonment of St. Swithun Wells' wife Alice--incarnate the glory of the Recusant Martyrs under Elizabeth I. Sir Walter Raleigh provides some humanity and reason to the Elizabethan reaction to English Catholics remaining true to their faith and the faith of their fathers; Richard Topcliffe represents all the fear, bigotry and cruelty of the age.

Their stories:

On December 10, 1591, Father Eustace White and layman Brian Lacey were executed at Tyburn. St. Eustace White was a convert to Catholicism--his anti-Catholic father cursed him and White endured permanent estrangement from his family. In 1584 Eustace began studies for the priesthood in Rheims, France and Rome, Italy, and was ordained at the Venerable English College in Rome in 1588. In November 1588 he returned to the west of England to minister to covert Catholics. The Church was going through a period of persecution in England, made even worse by the attack of the Armada from Catholic Spain. Arrested in Blandford, Dorset, England on 1 September 1591 for the crime of being a priest. He was lodged in Bridwell prison in London, and repeatedly tortured. 

He endured the torture technique developed by Richard Topcliffe and used on St. Robert Southwell and others, being hung by the wrists. As he wrote to Fr. Henry Garnet, SJ from prison:

"The morrow after Simon and Jude's day I was hanged at the wall from the ground, my manacles fast locked into a staple as high as I could reach upon a stool: the stool taken away where I hanged from a little after 8 o'clock in the morning until after 4 in the afternoon, without any ease or comfort at all, saving that Topcliffe came in and told me that the Spaniards were come into Southwark by our means: 'For lo, do you not hear the drums' (for then the drums played in honour of the Lord Mayor). The next day after also I was hanged up an hour or two: such is the malicious minds of our adversaries." 

At his trial he forgave the judges who sentenced him to death. He is also one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. You could read more about him in this bookBrian Lacey was a Yorkshire country gentleman. Cousin, companion and assistant to Blessed Father Montford Scott, who had suffered earlier in 1591. Arrested in 1586 for helping and hiding priests. Arrested again in 1591 when his own brother Richard betrayed him, Brian was tortured at Bridewell prison to learn the names of more people who had helped priests. Finally arraigned down the Old Bailey, he was condemed to death for his faith, for aiding priests and encouraging Catholic. Pope Pius XI also beatified him in 1929. Blessed Brian Lacey was also related to Blessed William Lacey, a 1582 martyr in York.

But these were not the only martyrdoms in London that day in 1591--St. Swithun Wells was hanged for NOT attending a Catholic Mass in Elizabethan England. His wife Alice attended the Mass held in his house near Gray's Inn in London, but he wasn't there when the priest hunters burst in during the Mass celebrated by Father Edmund Gennings. Those attending held the pursuivants off. His wife, Fathers Gennings (pictured at right) and Polydore Plasden, and two other laymen, John Mason and Sidney Hodgson were arrested at the end of the Mass. Swithun was arrested when he came home.

At his trial, he said he wished he could have attended that Mass and that was enough for the Elizabethan authorities! He was hung near his home on Gray's Inn Road in London, and he spoke to Richard Topcliffe before he died, hoping that this persecutor and torturer of Catholics would convert! He said, "I pray God make you a Paul of a Saul, of a bloody persecutor one of the Catholic Church's children." St. Swithun as a school master had for a time conformed to the official church but then had returned to the Catholic faith.

As he was led to the scaffold, Wells saw an old friend in the crowd and called out to him: "Farewell, dear friend, farewell to all hawking, hunting, and old pastimes. I am now going a better way"!

St. Swithun's wife Alice received a reprieve from her death sentence, but died in prison in 1602. The two priests and the other three laymen were all executed on December 10. Sir Walter Raleigh was present at the execution and heard Father Polydore pray for Queen Elizabeth. Raleigh then asked him about his loyalty to Queen Elizabeth as the rightful ruler of England and liked his answers, so ordered him to be hung until dead, thus avoiding the rest of the torture of his execution. On the other hand, Topcliffe made sure that Father Gennings suffered all the tortures of being hung and quartered: he was left to hang but a short time and was fully conscious as the executioner started cutting him up. Father Gennings had said, "I know not ever to have offended the Queen. If to say Mass be treason, I confess to have done it and glory in it."

The two priests and the house owner have been canonized: St. Edmund Gennings, St. Polydore Plasden, and St. Swithun Wells--among the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales in 1970. The two laymen who helped defend St. Edmund Gennings at Mass and were sentenced to death for that felony were beatified (Blessed John Mason and Blessed Sidney Hodgson) by Pope Pius XI in 1929.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Newman and the Immaculate Conception

Blessed Pope Pius IX's proclamation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, issued on December 8, 1864, would, like his re-establishment of the hierarchy in England and the First Vatican Council's declaration of Papal Infallibility, provoked reactions in England, politically and theologically.

Two years after the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, which Catholics celebrate today by going to Mass--and easing the usual Friday penitence!--Reverend Doctor E.B. Pusey wrote a public letter to the other great survivor of Newman's "defection", John Keble: An Eirenicon, responding to then Archdeacon Henry Manning's public letter to Pusey, The Workings of the Holy Spirit in the Church of England", in which Manning denied that the Church of England was protected from error the way the Catholic Church is. Pusey mentions the recently proclaimed doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (declared by Pope Pius IX in 1854: "We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace of the Omnipotent God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin, has been revealed by God, and therefore should firmly and constantly be believed by all the faithful.") and examines it in a historical context.

Father John Henry Newman then answered Pusey with A Letter Addressed to the Rev. E. B. Pusey, D.D. on Occasion of his Eirenicon, in which he defended the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, starting with the commonly held doctrine that our first parents, Adam and Eve, were without Original Sin, filled with supernatural grace. Mary, the Mother of God is the Second Eve: her obedience and cooperation with God undoes Eve's disobedience:

She holds, as the Fathers teach us, that office in our restoration which Eve held in our fall:—now, in the first place, what were Eve's endowments to enable her to enter upon her trial? She could not have stood against the wiles of the devil, though she was innocent and sinless, without the grant of a large grace. And this she had;—a heavenly gift, which was over and above and additional to that nature of hers, which she received from Adam, a gift which had been given to Adam also before her, at the very time (as it is commonly held) of his original formation. This is Anglican doctrine, as well as Catholic; it is the doctrine of Bishop Bull. He has written a dissertation on the point. He speaks of the doctrine which "many of the Schoolmen affirm, that Adam was created in grace, that is, received a principle of grace and divine life from his very creation, or in the moment of the infusion of his soul; of which," he says, "for my own part I have little doubt." Again, he says, "It is abundantly manifest from the many testimonies alleged, that the ancient doctors of the Church did, with a general consent, acknowledge, that our first parents in the state of integrity, had in them something more than nature, that is, were endowed with the divine principle of the Spirit, in order to a supernatural felicity."

Now, taking this for granted, because I know that you and those who agree with you maintain it as well as we do, I ask you, have you any intention to deny that Mary was as fully endowed as Eve? is it any violent inference, that she, who was to co-operate in the redemption of the world, at least was not less endowed with power from on high, than she who, given as a help-mate to her husband, did in the event but cooperate with him for its ruin? If Eve was raised above human nature by that indwelling moral gift which we call grace, is it rash to say that Mary had even a greater grace? And this consideration gives significance to the Angel's salutation of her as "full of grace,"—an interpretation of the original word which is undoubtedly the right one, as soon as we resist the common Protestant assumption that grace is a mere external approbation or acceptance, answering to the word "favour," whereas it is, as the Fathers teach, a real inward condition or superadded quality of soul. And if Eve had this supernatural inward gift given her from the first moment of her personal existence, is it possible to deny that Mary too had this gift from the very first moment of her personal existence? I do not know how to resist this inference:—well, this is simply and literally the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. I say the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is in its substance this, and nothing more or less than this (putting aside the question of degrees of grace); and it really does seem to me bound up in the doctrine of the Fathers, that Mary is the second Eve.

It is indeed to me a most strange phenomenon that so many learned and devout men stumble at this doctrine; and I can only account for it by supposing that in matter of fact they do not know what we mean by the Immaculate Conception; and your Volume (may I say it?) bears out my suspicion. It is a great consolation to have reason for thinking so,—reason for believing that in some sort the persons in question are in the position of those great Saints in former times, who are said to have hesitated about the doctrine, when they would not have hesitated at all, if the word "Conception" had been clearly explained in that sense in which now it is universally received. I do not see how any one who holds with Bull the Catholic doctrine of the supernatural endowments of our first parents, has fair reason for doubting our doctrine about the Blessed Virgin. It has no reference whatever to her parents, but simply to her own person; it does but affirm that, together with the nature which she inherited from her parents, that is, her own nature, she had a superadded fulness of grace, and that from the first moment of her existence. Suppose Eve had stood the trial, and not lost her first grace; and suppose she had eventually had children, those children from the first moment of their existence would, through divine bounty, have received the same privilege that she had ever had; that is, as she was taken from Adam's side, in a garment, so to say, of grace, so they in turn would have received what may be called an immaculate conception. They would have then been conceived in grace, as in fact they are conceived in sin. What is there difficult in this doctrine? What is there unnatural? Mary may be called, as it were, a daughter of Eve unfallen. You believe with us that St. John Baptist had grace given to him three months before his birth, at the time that the Blessed Virgin visited his mother. He accordingly was not immaculately conceived, because he was alive before grace came to him; but our Lady's case only differs from his in this respect, that to her the grace of God came, not three months merely before her birth, but from the first moment of her being, as it had been given to Eve.

But it may be said, How does this enable us to say that she was conceived without original sin? If Anglicans knew what we mean by original sin, they would not ask the question. Our doctrine of original sin is not the same as the Protestant doctrine. "Original sin," with us, cannot be called sin, in the mere ordinary sense of the word "sin;" it is a term denoting Adam's sin as transferred to us, or the state to which Adam's sin reduces his children; but by Protestants it seems to be understood as sin, in much the same sense as actual sin. We, with the Fathers, think of it as something negative, Protestants as something positive. Protestants hold that it is a disease, a radical change of nature, an active poison internally corrupting the soul, infecting its primary elements, and disorganizing it; and they fancy that we ascribe a different nature from ours to the Blessed Virgin, different from that of her parents, and from that of fallen Adam. We hold nothing of the kind; we consider that in Adam she died, as others; that she was included, together with the whole race, in Adam's sentence; that she incurred his debt, as we do; but that, for the sake of Him who was to redeem her and us upon the Cross, to her the debt was remitted by anticipation, on her the sentence was not carried out, except indeed as regards her natural death, for she died when her time came, as others [Note 5]. All this we teach, but we deny that she had original sin; for by original sin we mean, as I have already said, something negative, viz., this only, the deprivation of that supernatural unmerited grace which Adam and Eve had on their first formation,—deprivation and the consequences of deprivation. Mary could not merit, any more than they, the restoration of that grace; but it was restored to her by God's free bounty, from the very first moment of her existence, and thereby, in fact, she never came under the original curse, which consisted in the loss of it. And she had this special privilege, in order to fit her to become the Mother of her and our Redeemer, to fit her mentally, spiritually for it; so that, by the aid of the first grace, she might so grow in grace, that, when the Angel came and her Lord was at hand, she might be "full of grace," prepared as far as a creature could be prepared, to receive Him into her bosom.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Dominica Prima Adventus at the Cathedral in Wichita


Bishop Carl Kemme offered the 10:00 a.m. Mass for the First Sunday of Advent at our Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, the Novus Ordo in Latin and Ad Orientem. In fact, the Cathedral will offer most of the Masses during Advent Ad Orientem and provided a pamphlet to explain why. The rector of the Cathedral also made some comments before the dismissal on the use of Latin and Ad Orientem throughout this shortest of Advents: three weeks and day.

The Fourth Sunday of Advent is December 24, so Christmas Eve Masses will be held that night! I guess it's really three weeks and half a day!

We still had the four hymn structure--no Introit or Offertory verses, but we sang Veni, Veni Emmanuel during the Processional and Creator Alme Siderum for the Recessional. The choir sang Jesu Dulcis Memoria during the Offertory and invited us to sing along with O Esca Viatorum at Communion.

O Esca Viatorum has been attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas, but since no publication of it is known before the mid to late seventeenth century in Germany, it was more likely composed by anonymous "German Jesuit" as this source notes. It has been translated often, but one translation that pops up is by Athelstan Riley.

Riley (full name John Athelstan Laurie Riley) was born on August 10, 1858 in Bayswater, London and died on November 17, 1945, in Jersey on the Channel Islands:

Riley graduated from Eton and from Pembroke College, Oxford (BA 1881, MA 1883). He helped edit The English Hymnal in 1906, and the revision of the Prayer Book in 1911. For much of his life he was a member of the House of Laity for the Province of Canterbury. At some point he acquired the Manoir de la Trinité in Jersey, and thus became Seigneur of the Island of Jersey. He was on the island when the Germans invaded in World War II, and spent the rest of his life there. Riley’s works include:
  • Athos, or the Mountain of the Monks, 1887
  • The Religious Question in Public Education, 1911
  • Concerning Hymn Tunes and Sequences (London: A. R. Mowbray & Company, Ltd., 1915)
The most common tune for the translation is Innsbruck by Heinrich Isaac with harmonization by J.S. Bach. I don't know what tune the choir sang on Sunday.

Note that when I went to the evening Mass at Blessed Sacrament with my husband, that Mass was offered Ad Orientem as is the custom and one of our Parochial Vicars reviewed the use of Latin for the Ordinary before Mass began. One of the sopranos in the Schola sang the Alma Redemptoris Mater antiphon after Holy Communion. Driving home we had a beautiful view of the Super Moon!

Deo Gratias!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Nicholas Ferrar and Little Gidding

Nicholas Ferrar, friend and publisher of George Herbert and founder of the Little Gidding community, died on December 2, 1637, but his death is remembered in the Church of England today. The Anglican church of St. John in Little Gidding, Cambridgeshire, describes his life and his family's retreat to Little Gidding, a community of prayer:

Nicholas Ferrar was the son of a London merchant who was an early member of the Virginia Company, the group which established the American colony in 1607. In 1622 Nicholas succeeded his elder brother John as the company’s Deputy, becoming responsible for its day-to-day administration. In 1624 twin disasters struck; the company was dissolved and John faced a threat of bankruptcy. This turn of events convinced Nicholas and the family that they should renounce worldliness by leaving London and devoting themselves to a life of godliness. Nicholas and John’s widowed mother, Mary, purchased the manor of Little Gidding as part of a deal to rescue John from debt. An outbreak of plague in London in 1625 caused the family to move to Little Gidding more promptly than they had intended. On arrival they found the church used as a barn and the house, uninhabited for 60 years, in need of extensive repair. . . .

The community's devotions were extensive:

In 1626 William Laud, then Bishop of St. David’s but later Archbishop of Canterbury, ordained Nicholas a deacon though Nicholas made clear that he would not proceed to the priesthood. He and the family soon established on weekdays a regular round of prayer based on Archbishop Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer. The family processed to the church for these services of matins, the litany, and evensong, which were led by Nicholas. On Sundays Nicholas led the customary matins to which the local children came and afterwards recited the psalms they had learned, for each of which they received a penny. After the recitations were completed, all returned to the church where the Vicar of Great Gidding (Little Gidding’s rector being an absentee) led another service that included a sermon and, once a month, Holy Communion. The psalm children then went back with the family to the house where the family, including old Mrs. Ferrar herself, helped to serve them lunch. When the family had in turn finished their lunch, they walked over the fields to Steeple Gidding for evensong.

Nicholas also began a round of hourly devotions in the house that combined recitation of psalms and readings from the gospels led by members of the family. These were later augmented by nightly vigils in which participants again repeated the psalms.

Little Gidding inspired T.S. Eliot and he meditates upon its spirit in one of his The Four Quartets poems. It seems even more appropriate today to read George Herbert's "Prayer (1)":

Prayer the church's banquet, angel's age,
God's breath in man returning to his birth,
The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav'n and earth
Engine against th' Almighty, sinner's tow'r,
Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
The six-days world transposing in an hour,
A kind of tune, which all things hear and fear;
Softness, and peace, and joy, and love, and bliss,
Exalted manna, gladness of the best,
Heaven in ordinary, man well drest,
The milky way, the bird of Paradise,
Church-bells beyond the stars heard, the soul's blood,
The land of spices; something understood.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Mourning Mourne Abbey and Father O'Shea

Our diocese of Wichita, Kansas was blessed by the emigration of several Irish priests to serve in our parishes in the 1950's. As the young parochial vicar mentioned at the Noon Mass on Friday at our Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, they came here straight out of seminary in Ireland after their ordination to serve in a new world, without knowing anybody here (except for each other), and dedicated their lives to us.

The oldest priest of the diocese, retired of course, died this week: Father John O'Shea, who was 93 years old when he died and had been a priest of our diocese for 67 years. He visited Ireland often while he could but was devoted to the Catholics of southeast Kansas. He came to Kansas in 1950 and retired as a pastor in 1999.

Scanning his obituary I noticed that he was born in Mourneabbey Parish, County Cork.

Mourneabbey? Mourne Abbey!

Mourne Abbey was a monastery of the Knights Hospitallers of St. John founded in the late 13th century. This website, describing some archaeological work done at the site, offers these details:

The medieval Hospitallers’ preceptory of Mourneabbey is located c. 6KM south of the town of Mallow in North Cork, in the sheltered valley of the Clyda River, a tributary of the Blackwater. Substantial remains of a large church survive, along with overgrown ruins of claustral buildings, all within a walled enclosure, portions of which survive, incorporating two towers. The preceptory appears to be an early thirteenth century foundation; with documentary sources suggesting it existed by at least 1212.

The surviving remains of the church comprise the nave (28m x 8m) and chancel (20m x 6m). Evidence noted during conservation work on the walls indicates that the chancel roof was at a higher level than that of the nave, and there may well have been a crossing tower at the junction of the two. Transept arches survive in the north and south walls of the nave but the transepts themselves have collapsed. Recent limited excavations have suggested that the south transept had an apsidal end. Other small-scale excavations carried out by the present author recovered numerous fragments of medieval decorated floor tiles within the church. A decorated grave-slab located immediately east of the chancel has been identified as a Hospitaller tombstone dating to the early 16th century.


So why is Mourne Abbey in ruins? Because of Henry VIII!

While he was not king of all of Ireland, he did have control over some territory, and where he did, he ordered the monasteries and friaries suppressed. Cambridge University Press has published a book by Father Brendan Bradshaw, a Marist priest, telling the story of this suppression:

Father Bradshaw examines the dissolution of the religious orders in Ireland as an episode of Irish ecclesiastical and political history, and of the English Reformation. He also analyses its relationship to Henry VIII's Irish policy as a whole and to the beginnings of English colonialism. He discusses in detail the state of the religious orders on the eve of suppression, the extent of opposition to the implementation of the suppression policy in all its stages, the secularisation of monastic lands and the results of dissolution for Irish society and for subsequent Irish history. Despite the sensitive issues involved, Catholic, Protestant and academic historians have shown remarkable unanimity in the interpretation of the episode of the dissolution in Ireland. A thorough knowledge of both primary and secondary sources enables Father Bradshaw to challenge many of the conventional assumptions.

Cambridge University Press shares several pages from the book online, including two maps showing Henry VIII's jurisdiction in Ireland and the incredible number of monasteries, convents, and friaries throughout Ireland.

Father John O'Shea, rest in peace!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Blessed Richard Langley, Executed in York

John Hungerford Pollen, SJ writes about today's martyr in his Acts of the English Martyrs:

Richard Longley [Langley], Esq., was taken about the 21st of September in his own house by officers and a large band of soldiers, who had invested it. Among them was a certain Archdeacon (after the manner of the heretics) named Ramesdell, with some magistrates, Gayes, Vaughan, and Bethel, and there were taken with him two priests, who afterwards escaped out of prison. Mr. Longley was of such pleasant manners that he won the friendship of the gaoler, who in spite of his being a malicious heretic could scarcely refrain from tears when he was led out to execution. He was moreover of good family and fortune, yet he despised all these things, and declared before the Judges, that if he had greater riches and a hundred lives, he would willingly spend them all in that cause. 

The accusation against him was that he had relieved the enemies of the Queen (for so they styled God’s priests), whereupon he was urged to beg pardon for his crime of God and of the Queen. He answered with constancy that he had received them as messengers sent by God, and that therefore while he considered he had done an action pleasing to God, he could not admit that he had thereby done any injury to the Queen. This answer so irritated the Judges that they thought him unworthy of any grace, not even was the favour of an honourable burial allowed him, however much his friends begged for it. Permission was even refused for his corpse to be wrapped in the linen shroud he had prepared, and after his body had been thrown into the pit, the bodies of ten thieves were cast in over him. He died by hanging. 

During the whole time of his imprisonment, he was so merry that many wondered at him, for he had always been shy at home, yet when brought out for execution he showed such alacrity of mind as to go to the scaffold even before the Sheriff, as if he were a bridegroom going to his nuptials. He suffered on December the 1st, 1586.

John Hungerford Pollen, SJ was also known as John Hungerford Pollen, Jr. because he was the son of John Hungerford Pollen, Sr.! Pollen, Sr. was a Catholic convert and associate of Blessed John Henry Newman. Pollen, Sr. worked on the church for the Catholic University of Ireland in Dublin and on the Birmingham Oratory. Father Pollen was one of ten children and was ordained in 1891; he wrote several books about the English martyrs, including A Jesuit Challenge: Edmund Campion's Debates at the Tower of London in 1581 and The English Catholics in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth and died in 1925. He also wrote for the Catholic Encyclopedia, including this substantial article on the Counter-Reformation. More about Father Pollen here from the Jesuits in Britain.

Pope Pius XI beatified Richard Langley among many others in 1929.