Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Meriol Trevor and Blessed John Henry Newman

Meriol Trevor was one of the most prolific Catholic writers of the twentieth century. She was a convert to Catholicism and a devotee of Blessed John Henry Newman, author of a two-volume biography and other books about this great man and saint.

Several years ago Ignatius Press published her historical novel about Newman, Shadows and Images. Last summer, Ignatius published another historical novel Trevor wrote about Newman, Lights in a Dark Town, aimed a "young adult" readers.

Dr. Kelly Scott Franklin reviews the novel for The Catholic World Report and calls for a  revival of Trevor's fiction:

Newly reprinted by Ignatius Press, Trevor’s 1964 work of historical fiction tells a hopeful story of the power of God to overcome spiritual darkness. Even a single Christian, through the power of God’s grace, can bring light and transformation to his portion of the earthly realm. Each of us has a mission in our own place and time, and the story dramatizes Christ’s instruction in the Gospel of Matthew: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

For Meriol Trevor’s protagonist Emmeline, England is a far cry from her home in the sunny climes of Southern Europe. But after her father’s death, Emmeline, along with her mother, must return to England to live cheaply in the industrial town of Birmingham. Its poverty and grime appall, and the Erles’ own straitened circumstances seem to leave them with no friends and dim prospects for the future.

But it is 1849, and something wonderful has occurred in this squalid factory town: John Henry Newman has just founded an Oratory of priests in the heart of the industrial district. With her new friends Daniel and Lizzie, Emmeline finds herself caught up into the great Father’s orbit, as he ministers to the laborers and the poor of the city of Birmingham.


Please read the rest there. Sounds like Meriol Trevor anticipated the words of Pope Benedict XVI on September 19, 2010, when he beatified Newman (my bold emphasis!):

While it is John Henry Newman’s intellectual legacy that has understandably received most attention in the vast literature devoted to his life and work, I prefer on this occasion to conclude with a brief reflection on his life as a priest, a pastor of souls. The warmth and humanity underlying his appreciation of the pastoral ministry is beautifully expressed in another of his famous sermons: “Had Angels been your priests, my brethren, they could not have condoled with you, sympathized with you, have had compassion on you, felt tenderly for you, and made allowances for you, as we can; they could not have been your patterns and guides, and have led you on from your old selves into a new life, as they can who come from the midst of you” (“Men, not Angels: the Priests of the Gospel”, Discourses to Mixed Congregations, 3). He lived out that profoundly human vision of priestly ministry in his devoted care for the people of Birmingham during the years that he spent at the Oratory he founded, visiting the sick and the poor, comforting the bereaved, caring for those in prison. No wonder that on his death so many thousands of people lined the local streets as his body was taken to its place of burial not half a mile from here. One hundred and twenty years later, great crowds have assembled once again to rejoice in the Church’s solemn recognition of the outstanding holiness of this much-loved father of souls.

Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for us!

God our Father, you granted to your servant Blessed John Henry Newman wonderful gifts of nature and of grace, that he should be a spiritual light in the darkness of this world, an eloquent herald of the Gospel, and a devoted servant of the one Church of Christ.

With confidence in his heavenly intercession, we make the following petition: [here make your petition]

For his insight into the mysteries of the kingdom, his zealous defense of the teachings of the Church, and his priestly love for each of your children, we pray that he may soon be numbered among the Saints.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen

Meriol Trevor, rest in peace--I pray that you are in Heaven with Newman, joining in the praise of God:

Praise to the Holiest in the height
And in the depth be praise;
In all his words most wonderful,
Most sure in all his ways!
(The Dream of Gerontius).

Cecil's Reign of Terror; Henry IV's Assassin

Just a reminder that Anna Mitchell and I will continue our discussion of Hilaire Belloc's Characters of the Reformation, looking at what he thinks of the characters of William Cecil, Lord Burghley and King Henry IV of France this morning on the Son Rise Morning Show. Listen live here about 6:50 a.m. Central time/7:50 a.m. Eastern time.


Belloc writes about the persecution of Catholic during Cecil's tenure:

Meanwhile, of course, open persecution of the Catholic Faith in England could, on the pretext of the recent rebellion, be launched. The old nobility, at the head of which was the Duke of Norfolk, were humbled, and the young Duke himself— though an ardent Protestant— was lured into a position where Cecil, feigning the deepest friendship for him, could bring him to the scaffold — which he did. From that moment, 1572, Cecil was supreme. He was at the height of his great powers, a man just over fifty, and completely dominating the sickly and chafing Queen, in whose name he acted. 

The persecution grew more intense, until it was what I have called it— a reign of terror. But all the time Cecil, working hard upon the natural patriotism of England and insisting that he was only preserving the integrity and independence of the realm, maintained that the shocking executions and universal system of suppression and secret police work were not religious in motive, but only political. He kept to his formula, "that no man suffered for religion, but only for treason."

Cecil had to know that was not true.

Belloc does not point this out, but there's a great irony that Elizabeth, against whom no plot ever came close to succeeding, reigned into her old age; she may have angered both the Catholics and the Puritans, but she died of natural causes. Henry IV may not have pleased either the Catholics nor the Huguenots with his tolerant Edict of Nantes, but he was assassinated by a madman who had been rejected by two religious orders, including the Jesuits--Francois Ravaillac, who stabbed the king in his carriage on Rue de la Ferronnerie. He was tortured and butchered even more brutally than any of the priests found guilty of being Catholic priests, hearing confessions, and saying Mass.

In the meantime:

So, while in England Catholics were persecuted to the death — though still some half of the population — in France the Protestants — though but a small minority outside the noble class — were given all these advantages. They could practice their religion, of course, but, what was much more important politically, they could and did hold these strong places independently, whence they could make war against the Crown and threaten the mass of their fellow-citizens. They had, in particular, among these strong towns that of La Rochelle, an important seaport on the Bay of Biscay, which was as though in England at that time (it was towards the end of the reign of Elizabeth) the Catholics had been allowed to hold Portsmouth and, say, Chester, York, Leicester and a number of other walled towns in the kingdom. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Belloc's Views of Cecil and Henry IV of France


Anna Mitchell and I will continue our discussion of Hilaire Belloc's Characters of the Reformation, looking at what he thinks of the characters of William Cecil, Lord Burghley and King Henry IV of France tomorrow on the Son Rise Morning Show. Listen live here about 6:50 a.m. Central time/7:50 a.m. Eastern time.

After what Belloc said about Elizabeth I, you won't be surprised by his first comments about William Cecil, Lord Burghley (and his son):

William Cecil, who is better known as. Lord Burghley, the title he took after clinching his great success in the middle of his career, was the author of Protestant England. One might almost call him the creator of modern England as a whole, for he stands at the root of the Church of England — the typical central religious institution following on the English Reformation; and it was under his rule that the seeds were sown of all that later developed into what is now the English political and social system. 

It has often been remarked that England, more than any other European country, is cut off from her past. When England became Protestant she became a new thing and the old Catholic England of the thousand years before the Reformation is, to the Englishman after the Reformation, a foreign country. Now, the true artisan of that prodigious change was William Cecil, Lord Burghley. 

Thomas Cromwell was the man who achieved the breach with Rome and who launched England out onto the beginning of the adventure, but William Cecil was the man who by his own genius and that of his son Robert - did the essential work of changing England from a Catholic to a Protestant country. It was he who eradicated the Faith from the English mind, it was he who prevented the succour of Catholic England by the power of Catholic Europe outside; it was he who instituted and maintained a reign of terror, the long endurance of which at last crushed out the Mass from English soil.

Of course, this is the greatest sad thing Belloc could think of ever happening, the eradication of the Catholic Mass in England:

(Illustration of the Sarum Rite 1400)

(Page from a Missal of the Sarum Rite)

(A Pontifical Mass in the Sarum Rite: Note the Schola)

As Belloc continues to analyze Cecil's character, he addresses Cecil's motives:

He was without joy, and one may fairly say without religion. His motive was not hatred of the Catholic Church such as we find in Cranmer or in his own servant and head spy, Walsingham, the chief of his intelligence department. He destroyed the Church in England because he desired to confirm his own wealth and that of the clique of which he was the head, the new millionaires who had risen upon the booty of the monasteries, the bishoprics and all the rest. 

He himself was not, oddly enough, a direct thief of Church land; the huge fortune of the Cecils which has kept them an important family even to this day came from the betrayal of colleagues, the enjoyment of lucrative posts, and all that can be done by unscrupulous men in power to their own enrichment. The lands they held were largely Church lands, but at second hand. The Cecils had no considerable grant that I can remember out of the original loot. Yet were they, and William Cecil their founder, the typical and representative heads of all that new wealth which arose on the ruins of religion in England.

Belloc notes that Cecil used patriotism, love of country, to make it clear that Catholicism was not English:

His subtlety in gradually derailing England from her Catholic course was amazing. He found in these first years of his power a country the whole bulk of which was still entirely Catholic, in practice, daily habit and tradition. He could not challenge directly a force of that kind, but he undermined it; he played the card of national feeling; he relied upon Philip of Spain, the chief Catholic champion, to plead with the Pope that the new English Church was, after all, tolerable and that the schism might not be permanent. 

Meanwhile he prevented any direct action on the part of the Pope in England and he prevented a Nuncio from landing. Though the first laws had been passed making the worship in all the parish churches that of the new Anglican Establishment, yet the authorities winked at a large amount of toleration, going slowly in order to do their work more thoroughly later on. Men would take Communion in the Anglican form, and later take it in the Catholic form from the hands of the same parish priest; and Cecil boasted that no man suffered on account of his religion, only for treason to the State. 

Throughout his life he continued to play that card of national feeling as the strongest he had in his game against Rome. 

And as Belloc concludes, Cecil succeeded in both separating England from Catholicism and weakening Catholicism on the Continent as a political and cultural influence:

Thus was the great work which William Cecil had set out to do in England and Europe accomplished. On this account the whole of that decisive period in English history should properly be called "The Reign of the Cecils." It was they who introduced James I (just as they had introduced Elizabeth) to the throne; it was they who guided and shepherded the nation into the new paths. 

Such was William Cecil; one of the greatest and certainly one of the vilest of men that ever lived. His work has outlived him and his associates by many hundred years.

With the chapter on Henry IV of France, Belloc makes a transition to a new century and a new view of the conflict between Catholicism and Protestantism: on the Continent and in France:

With the opening of the seventeenth century the Reformation enters its second phase. Its first had been a universal struggle to determine whether the Faith should be retained by all Europe or lost by all Europe. The struggle had been accompanied in Spain by violent repressions, in the Germanies by local conflicts, compromises and conferences, in France by violent civil war. 

In England the Faith had been worsted by the consistent pressure against it of government, and with the loss of England (and Scotland under English power) the chance of a complete victory for Catholicism was lost. It was lost by 1606. 

Henceforward we have in all Europe a second phase more political and less religious than the first: a division of Europe into two parts: Catholic and Protestant, which gradually crystallized and became permanent. 

France fell after its exhausting civil war on to the Catholic side: but not thoroughly. The weakened combatants had ended by a compromise. 

Henry IV of France was the typical figure of the compromise. He is symbolic of the way in which the great religious struggle of the seventeenth century in Europe was going to end. 

Belloc offers little insight into Henry IV's character or personality as he catches us up on the history of the French Civil Wars of Religion, including the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, the fall of Valois, and Henry of Navarre of the House of Bourbon's ultimate compromise:

With the death of the last Valois, Henry of Navarre was legitimate King of France. He had the powerful Huguenot army at his service and, because he had hereditary right on his side, though still a Protestant, numbers of the Catholic gentry joined Mm as well. The action of Paris in preferring religion to hereditary right was odious to them; but Paris held out and formed the centre of resistance to the Bourbon. 

Up to this point it had seemed probable that Henry of Navarre would make good his right to the succession, and that France would have a Protestant King. If that should take place all the Protestant leaders (who were quite half the nobility of the country) would have received a great accession of power; a general loot of Church lands would certainly have begun after the pattern of what had happened in England, and probably the Faith would ultimately have been lost to France. Had France gone Protestant, the centre of gravity in Europe, from being with the Catholic culture, would have passed to the Protestant culture. 

(Entrance of Henry IV in Paris, 22 March 1594)

What saved the situation was the continued tenacity of the people of Paris. Although Henry of Navarre was still victorious they were determined not to give way; and, though they were subjected to a most horrible famine, they refused to yield. 

At last it was Henry of Navarre himself who gave way. He may or may not have used the famous words, " Paris is worth the Mass!" but these words certainly expressed his sentiments. He himself, like most of his rank in those days, had no real religion. The Huguenot preachers, whom he had to listen to, bored him intensely; he was a very loose liver [Le Vert Galant!], much attached to his pleasures; the very opposite of a Puritan. He had the virtues of a soldier with no real faith in any doctrine. He judged that it would be better, after all, to accept the religion of the bulk of his subjects as, unless he did so, he might never be allowed to reign in peace. 

This decision of Henry of Navarre to become Catholic was, as I have said, the first act of the great compromise by which Europe ultimately settled down into two opposing cultures — Catholic and Protestant. It marked the victory of popular Catholicism in France and the end of the chances — which once had stood so high — of Protestantism capturing that country. 

But the thing was not a Catholic victory by any means; it was what I have called it, a compromise. Henry's old comrades in arms retained their violent opposition to Catholicism; his right hand man, Sully, who worked his finances and was even more avaricious than most of the Huguenot set, was an example in point; and on all sides the Huguenots retained great political power. 

The new King further favoured them (with the object of retaining their support and reigning peaceably) by issuing an Edict known to history as the "Edict of Nantes." Under this arrangement a very large measure of toleration and something a good deal more than toleration was granted to the Huguenots. They were to be allowed to hold a certain number of strong towns and to garrison them and govern them independently, and thus form a sort of kingdom within the kingdom. 

As Belloc notes, Protestants were allowed some measure of freedom of worship in France but the Catholics none in England. So he concludes:

France was not, at his death, a fully Catholic country : on the contrary, it had become, through his action, a country in which a powerful anti-Catholic faction, counting many of the richest families in the kingdom, was tolerated and held important strongholds, as well as having the right to combine and put up effective resistance to the mass of the nation. 

The ultimate result of thus establishing a dualism of religion was a current of French opinion which in the course of two more generations began to shift from Protestantism to a skeptical form of anti-Catholicism. But still, take it for all in all, the Catholic culture of France had been saved by Henry of Bourbon's abjuration. And that King, known to history as "Henri Quatre" had, though not intending to do so, saved the civilization of the country and of Europe — though hardly.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Diana Rigg as the Duchess of Buccleuch?

I watched the first episode of the second season of Victoria on PBS last night, tuning in a little late and was shocked to see Diana Rigg (primarily because I barely recognized her). Then I discovered that she was playing Charlotte Anne Montagu Douglas Scott, Duchess of Buccleuch and Queensberry, Queen Victoria's Mistress of Robes from 1841 to 1846 during Sir Robert Peel's second administration. Why the producers of Victoria chose to cast Diana Rigg, who is 80, to play the role of a woman who is 30 (Charlotte Anne was born in 1811) boggles the mind. The real Duchess of Buccleuch was a young wife and mother of four, who would have a daughter, the Lady Victoria Alexandrina Montagu Douglas Scott, while serving Queen Victoria (mother and child pictured together at left)--Queen Victoria was Lady Victoria's Godmother.

Changing the Duchess' age throws the dynamic of their relationship off and in the context of the theme of the episode as Queen Victoria was learning how to juggle being a wife, monarch, and mother--there was quite a dispute about who would open the boxes (documents from the Prime Minister) to review--an actress portraying a slightly older young wife  and mother with noble duties would have been more appropriate.

Queen Victoria liked the Duchess and found her "an agreeable, sensible, clever little person." One thing that Queen Victoria probably thought contradicted that notion of being sensible was that the Duchess of Buccleuch became a "Roman" Catholic in 1860, 14 years after leaving the queen's household. The Duchess's brother, an Anglican minister, the Reverend Lord Charles Thynne, had became a Catholic in 1853. Lord Charles and Charlotte Anne's brother, the Reverend Lord John Thynne, was prominent High Church Anglican, so these "defections" would have been particularly difficult for him to accept. More about him at the Westminster Abbey website.

The Duchess and Cecil, the Marchioness of Lothian, became partners in charity and support for Catholic causes because Cecil, waiting until her husband died, became a Catholic in 1851 and her brother-in-law, another Anglican minister, the Reverend Lord Henry Kerr, "poped" in 1852. Cecil's sons, Lord Ralph Kerr and Lord Walter Kerr, and her daughters.

The Duchess of Buccleuch particularly supported the former nursing partner of Florence Nightingale, Frances Margaret Taylor in her life as Sister Mary Magdalen of the Sacred Heart, foundress of the religious order, the Poor Servants of the Mother of God. Taylor was also a convert to Catholicism.

Although she probably never reconciled with her former lady's "crossing the Tiber", Queen Victoria sent condolences when the Duchess of Buccleuch died on March 28, 1895, as this obit from The Tablet describes.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Thomas Stapleton's Life and Works

I've finished reading the first of my three books of 2018 this January: Father Marvin O'Connell's Thomas Stapleton and the Counter Reformation.

Contents:
Preface
Abbreviations
1. The Counter Reformation
2. The Man
3. The Work
4. The Quarrel over Justification
5. The Ghost of Pelagius
6. Sola Fides
7. The New Ecclesiastical Polity
8. The Oath of Supremacy
9. The Bishop and the Abbot
10. The Counterblast
Bibliographical Note
Index

Although unlike St. Thomas More--whom he admired and about whom he wrote in a triple biography of his patrons (St. Thomas the Apostle, St. Thomas Aquinas, and More)--Thomas Stapleton was an trained and ordained theologian and priest, in a way he is a successor to More. He wrote extensive and exhaustive controversial works, works that are still as little known as More's were in the last century. O'Connell notes that there are only two copies of some of Stapleton's works, which comprise around five million words in Latin and one million in English. The Catholic Encyclopedia lists the following titles:

His first works were translations: Ven. Bede's "History of the Church in England" (Antwerp, 1556), the "Apology of Staphylus" (Antwerp, 1565), and Hosius on "The Expresse Word of God" (1567). His original works were very numerous: "A Fortress of the Faith" (Antwerp); "A Return of Untruths" (Antwerp, 1566); "A Counterblast to M. Horne's vain blast" (Louvain, 1567); "Orationes funebres" (Antwerp, 1577); "Principiorum fidei doctrinalium demonstratio" (Paris, 1578); "Speculum pravitatis hæreticæ" (Douai, 1580); "De universa justificationis doctrina" (Paris, 1582); "Tres Thomæ" (Douai, 1588); "Promptuarium morale" in two parts (Antwerp, 1591, 1592); "Promptuarium Catholicum in Evangelia Dominicalia" (Cologne, 1592); "Promptuarium Catholicum in Evangelia Ferialia" (Cologne, 1594) and "Promptuarium Catholicum in Evangelia Festorum" (Cologne, 1592); "Relectio scholastica" (Antwerp, 1592); "Authoritatis Ecclesiasticæ circa S. Scripturarum approbationem defensio" (Antwerp, 1592); "Apologia pro rege Philippo II" (Constance, 1592), published under the punning pseudonym of Didymus Veridicus Henfildanus, i.e. Thomas the Stable-toned [truth-speaking] Henfieldite. "Antidota Evangelica", "Antidota Apostolica contra nostri Temporis Hæreses" (both at Antwerp, 1595); "Antidota Apostolica in Epistolam Pauli ad Romanos" (Antwerp, 1595); "Triplicatio inchoata" (Antwerp, 1596); "Antidota Apostolica in duas Epistolas ad Corinthios" (Antwerp, 1598); "Orationes catecheticæ" (Antwerp, 1598); "Vere admiranda, seu de Magnitudine Romanæ Ecclesiæ" (Antwerp, 1599); "Orationes academicæ miscellaneæ" (Antwerp, 1602); "Oratio academica" (Mainz, 1608). All his works were republished in four folio volumes in Paris in 1620, with an autobiography of the author in Latin verse and Henry Holland's "Vita Thomæ Stapletoni".

Like St. Thomas More, Stapleton uses many rhetorical devices to argue with his Anglican and Protestant opponents, including incredulous questions and accusations of inconsistency and illogical reasoning. O'Connell doesn't make this suggestion in his study of Stapleton but I thought of it when reading some of the excerpts from his works, especially when answering Bishop Horne or Jewell. 

O'Connell introduces his study with a chapter discussing the proper dating of the Counter Reformation (in his bibliographical note he mentions that the Counter Reformation has "yet to find its historian", since this was published before he had written his own study of the era): he focuses on the abdication of Charles V and the succession of Philip II to the throne of Spain in 1555. Although Philip II always looked after Spain's concerns first, he did much to assist the Jesuits, including the English exiles, and other defenders of the Catholic faith in the Church's efforts to respond to the Protestant Reformation. O'Connell also hails the election of the first of the Counter Reformation popes, Paul IV in 1555 as support for his dating of the era: "The day of the simoniacal pope, the militarist pope, and the dilettante pope had ended." (p. 15) He continues with sketches of succeeding popes, concluding with Clement VIII (1592-1605).

Then O'Connell provides a chapter on Stapleton's life, which is summarized thusly as in the Catholic Encyclopedia:

Controversialist, born at Henfield, Sussex, July, 1535; died at Louvain, 12 Oct., 1598. He was the son of William Stapleton, one of the Stapletons of Carlton, Yorkshire. He was educated at the Free School, Canterbury, at Winchester, and at New College, Oxford, where he became a fellow, 18 Jan., 1553. On Elizabeth's accession he left England rather than conform to the new religion, going first to Louvain, and afterwards to Paris, to study theology. In 1563, being in England, he was summoned by the Anglican bishop Barlow to repudiate the pope's authority, but refused and was deprived of the prebend of Woodhorne in Chichester Cathedral, conferred on him in 1558. He then retired to Louvain with his father and other relatives. In 1568 he joined Allen at Douai and took a great part in founding the English college there, both by lecturing and by devoting to its support his salary as lecturer in theology at Anchin College.

His talents were so remarkable that he was soon appointed public professor of divinity, and canon of St. Amatus; and together with Allen he completed the degree of D.D. on 10 July, 1571. In 1584 he resigned these preferments to enter the Society of Jesus, but did not complete his novitiate, and returned to Douai. Philip II appointed him professor of Scripture at Louvain in 1590, to which office a canonry in St. Peter's Church was annexed; and soon after he was made dean of Hilverenbeeck in the Diocese of Boisle-Duc. The emoluments of these offices were all spent in relieving necessitous English Catholics. Meanwhile his fame as a theologian had spread to Rome and Pope Clement VIII thought so much of his theological writings that he caused them to be read aloud at his table. Twice he invited Stapleton to Rome in vain, but his offer to make him prothonotary Apostolic in January, 1597, was accepted. It was generally believed that he would be created cardinal, a suggestion which was disapproved of by Father Agazzari, S. J., rector of the English College, and obstacles were put in the way of his journey to Rome (Eley, "Certaine Briefe Notes", p. 254). He accordingly remained at Louvain till his death in the following year. He left his books and manuscripts (now lost) to the English College at Douai. An original painting of Stapleton is preserved at Douai Abbey, Woolhampton, England.

Except for that 1563 visit to England, Stapleton lived as an exile and tried to help restore Catholicism in England, not by being a missionary priest, but by educating seminarians and writing apologetic and polemic works. He had some conflict with Father Robert Persons when that Jesuit leader thought that Stapleton was siding with Jesuit opponents, but Stapleton's time was mostly taken up with study, teaching, and writing--and charity to Englishmen in exile. Not a very exciting life.

After providing an overview of Protestant and Catholic views of justification, O'Connell highlights the crucial efforts of the Council of Trent's 1547 definition of the traditional Christian teaching about justification, providing Catholic theologians for a ground for discussion. Stapleton thought the doctrine on justification was the crucial issue of the Protestant Reformation and the chief error of the heretic beliefs of Protestants, influencing their attacks on the Sacraments, good works, prayer, the saints, etc. Stapleton did not want to waste time defending Catholics from charges of abuse or corruption, because he thought the central issue to discuss was justification. He wrote against Lutheran, Anglican, and Calvinist teachings on justification, defending the Catholic view.

O'Connell also highlights Stapleton's defense of John Feckenham, the last Abbot of Westminster, in his controversy with Robert Horne, the Anglican Bishop of Winchester, over the Oath of Supremacy, which Feckenham refused to take under Elizabeth I. O'Connell provides trenchant biographical sketches of Feckenham and Horne and then addresses Stapleton's arguments with Horne over the queen's supremacy and control of the Church of England. He contended that Horne and other Protestants who served as Anglican bishops had betrayed their own beliefs about authority in the Church: they said it was the Holy Bible, but they had sworn loyalty to Elizabeth, who could dispose bishops, decide the order of worship, and demand certain vestments be worn. Horne tried to argue that there was a clear division of civil and ecclesiastical control, but Stapleton mocked those attempts in view of what Elizabeth had already done in having laymen in Parliament define the doctrine of the Church of England, etc.

O'Connell ends his study of Thomas Stapleton's life and works and his efforts to defend Catholic teaching on justification and authority with that controversy. In a way, his bibliographical note provides the summary of Stapleton's efforts and how little we know of them today. Like Allen and Persons, Stapleton was probably too sanguine about the restoration of Catholicism in England, hoping that Spanish action could win the day, backed up by excellent apologetics and clear teaching of the truth.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Leanda de Lisle on the White King, Charles I

For the Waterstones blog, Leanda de Lisle writes about her latest book: White King: Charles I - Traitor, Murderer, Martyr:

Myth has an insidious way of working into way into history. Stories that ring true, that appeal to our prejudices, become ‘fact’. Sometimes they are rooted in contemporary propaganda, the old lies giving a veneer of respectability to the new. But they are also nurtured by attitudes hard-wired into us over centuries.

In my Tudor books I described how our patterns of thought have distorted the reputations of historical figures, particularly women. But in the case of my latest book,
White King, a biography of Charles I, there was still more to do. The character of the king and the women around him have been so maligned that readers have turned away from one the most dramatic reigns in British history: a tale of court glamour and political populism, of misogyny and religious violence, that speaks to our time.

The title of this book
– White King – is drawn from a sobriquet used by Charles’s contemporaries, and was inspired by the story that he was crowned in white. It is a sobriquet that is unfamiliar today. I hope it inspires curiosity and encourages readers to approach the biography of this damned monarch with an open mind.

Charles the Martyr, and Charles the Murderer, lauded by his friends, and condemned by his enemies, is now largely forgotten, but in popular memory something just as extreme remains. He is pinned to the pages of history as a failed king, executed at the hands of his own subjects, and now preserved like some exotic, but desiccated insect. In many accounts it seems that Charles was doomed almost from birth, his character immutable.

We like to believe we have turned our back on our old prejudices, but the way we remember him shows they lie just below the surface, still influencing the way we think.

Please read the rest there

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Newman, Wu, and Stapleton

I'm juggling three books right now: one by Father Marvin O'Connell, Thomas Stapleton and the Counter-Reformation; John H.C. Wu's Chinese Humanism and Christian Spirituality, and Edward Short's collection of essays, presentations, and reviews, Newman and History. I'll provide reviews soon.

I'm reading the book on Thomas Stapleton because I just read Father O'Connell's history of the Counter Reformation and because of this comment in his obituary:

Nevertheless, about his own artistic accomplishments he was humble. He particularly liked to tell a story about proudly presenting his mother with his first published book, on the 16th-century English Catholic theologian Thomas Stapleton. His mother told him that she planned to read it during Lent. “After finishing the first chapter,” Father O’Connell said, “she let me know that she had changed her mind. She’d decided not to read my book and to give up chocolate instead.”

So far, it's as excellent as I expected--but I haven't had any chocolate lately anyway.

Father John Hardon, SJ included John C.H. Wu in his Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan so when I saw that Angelico Press had published his book comparing Chinese philosophy to St. Therese of Lisieux and other aspects of Catholic Christian spirituality, I asked Warren at Eighth Day Books to get a copy for me:

In the essays collected here, John C. H. Wu (1899–1986), the prominent 20th-century scholar of both Chinese and western law, philosophy, literature, and spirituality, illustrates with striking originality the harmonious synthesis of Chinese humanism (especially the wisdom of the ancient sages) with Christian spirituality as articulated in the Bible and the writings of the saints, mystics, and such modern spiritual writers as Thérèse of Lisieux. They display the depth and breadth of Wu’s thought, which led him to the conclusion that the wisdom in all of China’s traditions—especially Confucian thought, Taoism, and Buddhism—points to universal truths that originate from, and are fulfilled in, Christ, and that the “marriage” of the East and the West in Christ is the key to a future concordant understanding.

More about John C.H. Wu's fascinating life here.

One question I have as I read about the spirit of Chinese humanism is what has so many decades of Communism and totalitarianism--including forced abortions and other horrors--done to this spirit? 


Following the advice of Professor J.J. Scarisbrick in his introduction, I'm dipping into Newman and History by reading some of the shorter entries. The one so far that has been most fascinating is a discussion of the conversions of Blessed John Henry Newman and C.S. Lewis (and why Lewis did not become a Catholic). The key is the definition of "conversion".

What are you reading, readers?

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Newman and His Sister Mary

As Edward Short describes in his book Newman and His Family, John Henry Newman loved his parents and his siblings very deeply. He was especially fond of his youngest sister Mary, who died young after a brief, sudden, undisclosed illness. Newman remembered her especially on the anniversary of her throughout his long life. As Short quotes one of his letters, written just ten months after Mary died, Newman felt her presence and heard her voice constantly. He told his sister Harriett in that letter, that he felt blessed by this comfort, but he had still felt grief and regret:

All I lament is, that I do not think that she ever knew how much I loved her.

In 1882, more than 50 years after her death, he confided in one of his closest friends, Maria Giberne, that he often could not mention Mary's name without tears coming into his eyes.

On the Blessed Cardinal Newman website, Professor Barb H. Wyman offers a reflection on a poem that Newman wrote about his sister Mary's death, noting that it took place just before Epiphany:

The Feast of Epiphany celebrates the happy arrival of the Magi into Bethlehem bringing gifts to the newborn Christ. This date for Blessed John Henry Newman, however, was filled with sadness, for Newman’s beloved sister, Mary, on the 5th of January 1828, died suddenly at age 19. In this moving poem, Epiphany-Eve: A Birthday Offering, Newman majestically weaves together these two contrasting events, the glad feast and his sister’s devastating death, for Newman loved Mary dearly; she was particularly sweet and cheerful, even when she knew her death was imminent. The pain of her death saddened Newman into his old age. The spiritual effects were great, however. It caused Newman to be keenly aware of the transitory nature of life on earth, and made him more attuned to the “invisible” world all around. It also strengthened his trust in God’s providence. These things would find their way into his poetry. This poem was written on the second anniversary of Mary’s death.

In the second stanza, Newman makes the connection clear between her death and this feast as Mary's soul was the family's gift to the Newborn King--their best:

‘Twas a fast, that Eve of sorrow,
Herald veil’d of glorious morrow.
Speechless we sat; and watch’d, to know
How it would be; but time moved slow,
Along that day of sacred woe.
Then came the Feast, and we were told
Bravely of our best to bring,
Myrrh, and frankincense, and gold,
As our tribute to our King.

Please read the rest there

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Happy Epiphany: The Magi, the Baptism, and the Wedding Feast


Today is the traditional day of Epiphany, although we will celebrate here it in the USA at Sunday Mass on January 7--just one day off! Epiphany is one of the most fascinating feasts of the Church's liturgical year, because it celebrates not just one but three events. There are three manifestations of Jesus: when the Magi present their gifts to the new born King of the Jews; when St. John baptizes Jesus in the Jordan; when Jesus changes water into wine at the Wedding Feast of Cana. At Sunday Mass, the Gospel according to St. Matthew tells the story of the Magi from the east, but in the Liturgy of the Hours, the other epiphanies are celebrated are celebrated in the antiphon for the Magnificat of Vespers:

Three mysteries mark this holy day: today the star leads the Magi to the infant Christ; today water is changed into wine for the wedding feast; today Christ wills to be baptized by John in the river Jordan to bring us salvation.

In The Catholic Herald, Father David Elliott of The Oratory School in Woodcote, Oxfordshire writes about how much his students enjoy the preparations for this feast:

One liturgy where customs seem to fall over themselves is the Mass for the Epiphany. There is a superabundance of ritual to take advantage of: the proclamation of the date of Easter, the opportunity to offer incense, the blessing of chalk so the faithful may mark their houses each year, and the blessing of Magi water so the faithful may bless their homes. These sacramentals speak to every Catholic and, where practised, people respond very positively. They are gifts from the Church which cost nothing in terms of money but are rich with the message of a Church which wants to permeate the life and homes of every Catholic person so that their home life may not be discrete from their life at Church.

What I want to see in this country is a Catholic Church where people’s homes are alive with the same faith they espouse at church. This has to be taught in our schools first and foremost and the key is to immerse our young people in ritual, the understanding of which has not always been taught to their parents and grandparents. In 1970, the anthropologist Mary Douglas lamented in her book
Natural Symbols what she perceived to be a loss of ritualism in contemporary culture. She cited as a case in point the English and Welsh bishops’ decision to do away with abstinence on Fridays (something which was reinstated in 2011). In the eyes of many of the faithful this was an instance of the hierarchy (priests and bishops) taking away from the people their right to belong. In contrast to the people, the priests saw ritual actions as separating Catholics from the rest of the population and wanted instead to integrate Catholics more fully into mainstream society; the result was to alienate a people from the religion they loved.

Blessed John Henry Newman founded in The Oratory School in 1859. In this Parochial and Plain Sermon, he describes the season of Epiphany, which has been shortened in the modern Roman Calendar to a week at most, between Epiphany and the Baptism, but this year by a day (since Monday is the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, right after the Solemnity of the Epiphany.) Newman notes that this is a time set apart

for adoring the glory of Christ. The word may be taken to mean the manifestation of His glory, and leads us to the contemplation of Him as a King upon His throne in the midst of His court, with His servants around Him, and His guards in attendance. At Christmas we commemorate His grace; and in Lent His temptation; and on Good Friday His sufferings and death; and on Easter Day His victory; and on Holy Thursday His return to the Father; and in Advent we anticipate His second coming. And in all of these seasons He does something, or suffers something: but in the Epiphany and the weeks after it, we celebrate Him, not as on His field of battle, or in His solitary retreat, but as an august and glorious King; we view Him as the Object of our worship. Then only, during His whole earthly history, did He fulfil the type of Solomon, and held (as I may say) a court, and received the homage of His subjects; viz. when He was an infant. His throne was His undefiled Mother's arms; His chamber of state was a cottage or a cave; the worshippers were the wise men of the East, and they brought presents, gold, frankincense, and myrrh. All around and about Him seemed of earth, except to the eye of faith; one note alone had He of Divinity. As great men of this world are often plainly dressed, and look like other men, all but as having some one costly ornament on their breast or on their brow; so the Son of Mary in His lowly dwelling, and in an infant's form, was declared to be the Son of God Most High, the Father of Ages, and the Prince of Peace, by His star; a wonderful appearance which had guided the wise men all the way from the East, even unto Bethlehem.

This being the character of this Sacred Season, our services throughout it, as far as they are proper to it, are full of the image of a king in his royal court, of a sovereign surrounded by subjects, of a glorious prince upon a throne. There is no thought of war, or of strife, or of suffering, or of triumph, or of vengeance connected with the Epiphany, but of august majesty, of power, of prosperity, of splendour, of serenity, of benignity. Now, if at any time, it is fit to say, "The Lord is in His holy temple, let all the earth keep silence before Him." [Hab. ii. 20.] {76} "The Lord sitteth above the waterflood, and the Lord remaineth a king for ever." "The Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge." "O come, let us worship, and fall down, and kneel before the Lord our Maker." "O magnify the Lord our God, and fall down before His footstool, for He is Holy." "O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness; bring presents, and come into His courts."

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Elizabeth, Mary, and Charles

Just a reminder that Anna Mitchell and I will discuss Hilaire Belloc's views of Elizabeth I and Mary of Scotland this morning on the Son Rise Morning Show. Listen live or find the podcast here.


Execution of Mary Stuart, deposed Queen of Scotland

Belloc mentions how much Elizabeth did not want Mary, the former Queen of Scotland, born of Royal Blood, to be executed. Mary had consistently rejected the justice of her trial, arguing that no peers were judging her, because her only peers were Kings and Queens, those born of Royal families. Elizabeth may have known what other monarchs would think if she had Mary executed, but she could not know the precedent her action would set and how it could have led to the beheading of Charles I--and what it would do to the authority of kings and queens in England.


Execution of Charles I, King of England

In the chapter on Elizabeth, Belloc concludes:

Cecil would never have told you that he was the real master of England, and, even though upon a strict examination of conscience he would have had to admit it, he still regarded himself a minister and servant. And she herself, Elizabeth, was of course filled with the idea of her office to the end, that ideal of monarchy which men still held.Yet it was under her that the monarchy of England began to fall to pieces so rapidly that within half a lifetime after her death the rich taxpayers not only rose in rebellion successfully against the Crown, but put their Monarch, her second successor, to death. 

With that event, the beheading of Charles I, the old English monarchy came to an end, and it remained nothing but a simulacrum of itself. Government had passed to the gentry and to their two great committees, the House of Lords and the House of Commons.

At the end of the chapter on Mary Stuart, the Queen of Scotland and Elizabeth's heir, Belloc restates his case:

But Elizabeth appreciated what her responsibility would be in the eyes of all Europe, and what an abominable thing it was to bring an anointed sovereign and her own cousin and legitimate heir — for that matter the true Queen of England — to the scaffold. But Cecil was too powerful for Elizabeth; he was her master. The warrant had been signed, but Elizabeth had not given her assent to its being acted upon. Cecil took that responsibility upon himself, and, without Elizabeth's permission, had Mary Stuart beheaded on February 8, 1587. 

The outrage raised a prodigious storm throughout Christendom. Philip of Spain launched the Armada against England to avenge it, and the Armada failed. All this group of events, ending in this failure of the Armada, made up the decisive and final crisis and success of the English Reformation. Thenceforward Cecil's increasingly successful plan was secure, and there could be no going back. 

Very much more follows upon the tremendous business of Mary's violent death at the hands of the English government, the most important of which was perhaps the precedent which it gave against all the morals and ideas of the time, for the trial of a sovereign by subjects — a precedent with a tragic result for her grandson Charles I.