Category Archives: The Professed

Catholic denial – 9/18/09

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-The Denial of Saint Peter, by Caravaggio, circa 1610, oil on canvas
H: 94 cm (37 in) x W: 125.4 cm (49.4 in), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

When I joined Voice of the Faithful two years ago, I did so with trepidation, for a number of reasons.  What followed was an in depth, profound, overwhelming and disturbing education in the subject of pedophilia and pederasty.

I drank information from the fire hose in emails, new articles, and more recently, published works and media.  I have met and talked intimately with countless survivors, befriended many, attended conferences, listened to expert speakers on the topic, participated in protests and “actions” drawing attention to the matter, and watched trials, heard heart ripping victim impact statements, and the sentencing of dissociated, unrepentant perpetrators.  I have written to one priest in jail offering the kindness of correspondence, a breviary, or rosary.  I never heard back.

This work is not for everyone.  If someone asked me today about joining VOTF, I would respond to them, “How strong is your faith?  No, REALLY, how STRONG is your FAITH!?”

It has been and continues to be an education I never wanted and still do not wish I had or wish to continue receiving.  But, I have grown in my awareness and knowledge of how this crime is perpetrated, what the danger signs are, what the effect on the victim is and what it takes to survive this horrific betrayal and violation of trust, and how long that can take to come to terms with so much, and never fully.  I want Mara, our future children, God willing, and every other child to grow up in a safer world and Church.  That is why I do it.  Jesus will ask me, in my particular judgment, I am absolutely convinced, what I did about this, and I am intent on having the best answer I can.

Witnessing the psychology of my fellow lay Catholics during this period of my education in this sin has been equally troubling and profound.  “Isn’t that over?  Isn’t that somebody else’s problem?  What does that have to do with me?  I didn’t do anything?  You’re a troublemaker!  You hate the Church!  We don’t want your kind in ministry!  How can you call yourself a Catholic?  Those people just want money!  Don’t ruin my Sunday happy time/place!” and so on.

Everyone I know in Voice of the Faithful were/are some of the most dedicated, passionate Catholics you could hope to find.  Every VOTF member held every title in the Church you can think of, yes, even bishop.  But, as well, now every member of VOTF bears another title even before their prior ministerial one, “former”, and rarely by their own choice.  It is an odd and ironic feeling I have during the Prayers of the Faithful when as a Christian community we pray for the downtrodden, the maligned, those in misery, those treated unjustly, the unfortunate, and I think to myself, “Hey, I just left them an hour ago!”, and it usually was the official church, laity or ordained, who did the mistreatment?  What Twilight Zone have I wandered into now?  And, Fr. Rod Serling just gave the homily.

Every one of the victims was sure the Church would “do the right thing” when they shared their pain.  They were, instead, victimized all over again.  A friend of mine, Rick, a survivor, showed me the window of the room in rectory where it happened when he was a child, one day when we were driving by.  He wasn’t even Catholic to begin with.  He was a Lutheran boy, but got so excited about the beauty of the Mass, he believed it all had to be true.  Rick is an old man now and not in good health.  He drives a cab.  Rick will die in his cab, I am sure.  He is a hero and a friend of mine.  I am so blessed.  This is not a Catholic problem.  It is a human sin.

I have heard so many rationalizations in hopes of not having to deal with the truth of it all from my fellow Catholics, I could not number them for you.  I have heard the equivalent of the below many times before.  Recently, another hero of mine, Deacon T, put what he heard in an email.  I get THE BEST emails!:

“A meeting of the deacons of the Archdiocese of Chicago was held Sept 9th.  Mostly a non-event as most of the meetings are with a set agenda. It was devoted mainly to the new evangelization effort in the Archdiocese called Catholics Come Home.

At the end of Bishop Rs’ remarks he opened to questions. Benign questions from the deacons. As the last question to him I asked, “Since we deacons received, in our email boxes, copies of talking points regarding the Bishop G’s deposition, and the recent law suit alleging racial discrimination against black abuse victims, should we expect more letters from Rev. C on sex abuse matters?”

The question seemed to catch him flat footed and he paused for quite some time. He said the letters were to counter the media coverage of these events  and to clarify the truth on the issues. He didn’t elaborate beyond that. I  didn’t think it appropriate to debate fallacies in the letters with him in  that forum.

However, as the meeting concluded, Deacon J, the vicariate king deacon, commented on the Catholics Come Home program. He said we must not be afraid of tough questions from lapsed Catholics who come forward. He specifically expounded on  divorce/annulment issues. Then he spoke about clerical sex abuse. He teared up  when he said he himself was abused when he was 7 by a coach. He then expounded  on how to deal with angry Catholics’ questions about abuse:

  • He said the incidence of abuse by Protestants is a higher % than by priests (projection).
  • He said how horribly painful it was for priests who are wrongly accused (reverse effect).
  • He said the reason people level allegations against the Church is because the Church has so much money (plausible ulterior motive).
  • He said many people come forward are not abused and implied they do it for the money (people are dishonest).

This could not go unchallenged.  As the meeting closed I went to him privately and expressed sympathy for the abuse he suffered. I asked if his statements to the group are the answers we should give to questioning Catholics. I said we look like fools if we say the Protestants are worse than we are. I said that dog doesn’t hunt.

He pointed out (like reading from the talking points) about how much more we know now than we did in the 60’s,  70’s… I mentioned all that went out the window with the McCormack matter. At  this point he was visibly shaken, though honestly this wasn’t my intent. I  mentioned to him my personal and diaconal experiences in sex abuse matters in  Tulsa, Ft. Worth and here in Chicago and said things  haven’t changed that much.

He said there were “mistakes  made”. I reminded him (though I’m not sure he knew) that man over there, pointing to Bishop R, who was still in the room, withheld information from the Cardinal that would have prevented further abuse, according the Cardinal’s own testimony, “I was not aware.” The people are angry with the hierarchy.  At that point he turned to others who were waiting to talk with him, and I don’t know if they heard what we were saying.

Net-net, deacons are in denial or unwilling to confront what they know is wrong. They are uninformed to any depth on this subject and are not challenged to learn the complete truth.  Bishop R doesn’t want to talk about it.

As I walked out I went to Bishop R and introduced myself and reminded him I’ll be seeing him again on 9/20 at the St. Thomas Becket 40th anniversary Mass, where I’ll be his deacon of the Mass.”

May God have mercy on us all!  Our Lady of Sorrows, come to our aid!

Love,
Matthew

Sep 28 – Sts Lawrence Ruiz & Companions, (1600?-1637), Husband, Father, Catechist, Martyr

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At St Matthias, the church nearest where Kelly and I and Mara currently live, there is a shrine to St Lawrence Ruiz.  I really didn’t know who he was.  There are some Filipino grandmothers at Mass there regularly whom I would never want to “mess with”.  The would take me out.  I am convinced.  They wear their veils and the biggest scapulars I have ever seen.  I don’t mess with Filipino grandmothers who wear over-sized scapulars and are always at Mass.  They scare me to my soul.  I don’t mess.  There is a Filipino grandmother curse with my name on it if I do, I am convinced.  “The fear of the Lord and of Filipino grandmothers who wear big scapulars and are always in church is the beginning of Wisdom.”  I am sure I have seen these exact words in Scripture.  🙂

Lawrence (Lorenzo) was born in Manila of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother, both Christians. Thus he learned Chinese and Tagalog from them and Spanish from the Dominicans whom he served as altar boy and sacristan. He became a professional calligrapher, transcribing documents in beautiful penmanship. He was a full member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary under Dominican auspices. He married and had two sons and a daughter.

His life took an abrupt turn when he was accused of murder. Nothing further is known except the statement of two Dominicans that “he was sought by the authorities on account of a homicide to which he was present or which was attributed to him.”

At that time three Dominican priests, Antonio Gonzalez, Guillermo Courtet and Miguel de Aozaraza, were about to sail to Japan in spite of a violent persecution there. With them was a Japanese priest, Vicente Shiwozuka de la Cruz, and a layman named Lazaro, a leper. Lorenzo, having taken asylum with them, was allowed to accompany them. But only when they were at sea did he learn that they were going to Japan.

They landed at Okinawa. Lorenzo could have gone on to Formosa, but, he reported, “I decided to stay with the Fathers, because the Spaniards would hang me there.” In Japan they were soon found out, arrested and taken to Nagasaki. The site of wholesale bloodshed when the atomic bomb was dropped had known tragedy before. The 50,000 Catholics who once lived there were dispersed or killed by persecution.

They were subjected to an unspeakable kind of torture: After huge quantities of water were forced down their throats, they were made to lie down. Long boards were placed on their stomachs and guards then stepped on the ends of the boards, forcing the water to spurt violently from mouth, nose and ears.

The superior, Antonio, died after some days. Both the Japanese priest and Lazaro broke under torture, which included the insertion of bamboo needles under their fingernails. But both were brought back to courage by their companions.

In Lorenzo’s moment of crisis, he asked the interpreter, “I would like to know if, by apostatizing, they will spare my life.” The interpreter was noncommittal, but Lorenzo, in the ensuing hours, felt his faith grow strong. He became bold, even audacious, with his interrogators.

When government officials asked, “If we grant you life, will you renounce your faith?,” Lorenzo responded: “That I will never do, because I am a Catholic, and I shall die for God, and for Him I will give many thousands of lives if I had them. And so, do with me as you please.”

The five were put to death by being hanged upside down in pits. Boards fitted with semicircular holes were fitted around their waists and stones put on top to increase the pressure. They were tightly bound, to slow circulation and prevent a speedy death. They were allowed to hang for three days. By that time Lorenzo and Lazaro were dead. The three Dominican priests, still alive, were beheaded.

Beatified in 1981, Pope John Paul II canonized these six and 10 others, Asians and Europeans, men and women, who spread the faith in the Philippines, Formosa and Japan in 1987. Lorenzo Ruiz is the first canonized Filipino martyr.

O most merciful and almighty God,
You bestowed as gift to Lorenzo Ruiz
The strength to withstand
The overpowering forces of death
For the sake of his faith in You.

Through his prayers,
Help us to follow his example
By overcoming all life’s trials
And eventually, increase
Our hope and love in You.

O St. Lorenzo Ruiz,
You brought honor to your country,
Having been a level-headed
And prudent father of the family,
A witness of Christ in your life
Until your death.

We present all our petitions
To God through your help
So that by our actions,
We may know more and love more
Jesus our Lord and Savior.

We humbly implore
Your intercession O dear St. Lorenzo,
For the infinite glory of God
And in honor of your triumph
As a martyr of Christ
And defender of Christianity.

Amen.

Love,
Matthew

Nov 5 – Servant of God Giorgio La Pira (1904-1977), The Godly Mayor – a job, a house, & music…

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What can one person do?  Certainly little in the modern world?  Right?  Certainly?  This excuse is regularly used to avoid challenging questions one’s conscience may pose.  The cost is one’s mental health and, possibly, one’s soul.

Giorgio La Pira was a charismatic and popular politician – the type of big city civic character who might seem familiar to Americans. What distinguishes La Pira is that this three-time mayor of Florence may well have been a saint. Governing in the 1950’s and 60’s he had an overriding concern for the poor, was a defender of the rights of workers and, later on, became an international apostle of peace.

On April 26, 2004, Italy celebrated the centenary of Giorgio La Pira. On that occasion, in a meeting with representatives from the National Association of Italian Municipalities, Pope John Paul II praised the former mayor of Florence as a man who “set forth with firmness his ideas as a believer and as a man who loved peace, inviting his interlocutors to a common effort to promote this basic good in various spheres: in society, politics, the economy, cultures and among religions.” Eighteen years earlier, in 1986, the formal process for the cause of the beatification of Giorgio La Pira began.

Even before his death, Giorgio La Pira was already considered a living saint by some in Italy.  His clothes were alleged to have miraculous healing powers. Amintore Fanfani, La Pira’s friend and fellow Christian Democrat, was reported to have used an old hat of La Pira’s to cure minor illnesses suffered by his children. Who was this man?

Giorgio La Pira was born on January 09, 1904 in Pozzallo, a town in the province of Ragusa in Sicily. Born the eldest of six children, La Pira’s family was not wealthy. His father, Gaetano, worked in a packing house. However, like many Italian children, La Pira was brought up in a Catholic household that valued education. After moving to Messina to live with an uncle, La Pira received both a traditional education in the Classics as well as a business education, receiving a degree in accounting. Law school was the next step in an academic career that would eventually see the cheerful Sicilian awarded the Chair of Roman Law at the University of Florence in 1933.

While beloved by his students, La Pira eventually ran afoul of Italy’s Fascist regime. Having helped found the anti-fascist magazine Principles in 1939, La Pira became a target of Mussolini’s police, prompting La Pira to seek refuge in the Vatican City where he worked for L’Osservatore Romano, the newspaper of the Holy See. After the end of World War II, La Pira played an important role in shaping the future of the Italian Republic. As part of the Constituent Assembly, La Pira helped craft the new Italian constitution, standing firmly in favor of the legal indissolubility of the family and championing the authority of fathers within the family. In 1948, La Pira went to work for the government of Prime Minister Alcide De Gasperi as Undersecretary of Labor in the Ministry of Employment and Social Insurance.

During his period in the national government, La Pira became associated with the left-wing of the Christian Democratic Party, along with Giuseppe Dossetti, Amintore Fanfani, and Giuseppe Lazzati. Known as the “Little Professors” because of their impressive academic credentials and Christian idealism, the friends founded the journal Cronache Sociali, a left-leaning journal of Christian social thinking. La Pira’s writings on economics were heavily influenced by John Maynard Keynes and other British sources including Stafford Cripps and the Labour Party in general. For La Pira and many of his allies on the left-wing of the Christian Democratic Party, Clement Attlee’s Labour government in Great Britain was the model that post-war Italy ought to follow on questions of economics.

When La Pira became Mayor of Florence in 1951, he brought with him many of the economic ideas he developed while writing for the Cronache Sociali and working in the national government on problems of unemployment and other socio-economic issues. These ideas would be put to the test in a concrete fashion when La Pira was faced with a city suffering from high unemployment and a housing shortage. Wasting little time, La Pira’s administration burst into action, developing a number of public works projects designed to alleviate the city’s unemployment problem. Under La Pira’s watch, bridges destroyed during the war were rebuilt, water works and public transportation systems were repaired or built, low-cost public housing was constructed for the homeless residents of the city, and various artistic and cultural programs were developed. La Pira’s vision for Florence was a city of self-sufficient neighbourhoods with a vibrant cultural life.

Of course, La Pira’s administration is probably most famous for its extensive policy of municipalisation that earned him the love of workers and the hatred of many industrialists. In 1955, La Pira’s city government took over a failed foundry and turned over its operation to the workers, allowing them to elect their bosses from among their own ranks. In response to changes in national government policy that allowed evictions from rent-controlled apartments, La Pira requisitioned old Fascist buildings and even the villas of wealthy Florentines for the purpose of rehousing evicted tenants.

In perhaps his most famous action as Mayor of Florence, La Pira saved hundreds of jobs at the Pignone industrial plant, which at that time was making cotton-spinning machines for the textile industry. Due to a slump in demand in the textile business, Pignone was being closed down by its private owners. However, the workers refused to leave, sleeping and taking meals in the factory and continuing to work the machines. La Pira joined the workers in attending Mass and worked with the union leadership to find a resolution to the problem of the plant’s closure. Eventually, La Pira was able to convince Enrico Mattei, the head of ENI, Italy’s powerful state-run energy corporation, to take over the factory and place it under public ownership, thus saving more than one thousand jobs.

La Pira’s generosity with the public treasury was only matched by his own personal attitude toward those in need. It was not unusual to find the Mayor of Florence walking about with no shoes, no coat, and no umbrella, because he had given away his clothing to the poor. La Pira, who was a Dominican tertiary, lived in an unheated monastery cell in the Basilica of San Marco, although he sometimes lodged with a doctor friend when it was especially cold outside.  His behavior caused him to be dubbed “the Saint” by the people of Florence. Indeed, despite the fact that he was hated by many businessmen in Italy, their allies in the Christian Democratic Party could not afford to replace La Pira with another candidate as he was seen as the only person who could defeat the Communists in left-wing Florence.

After La Pira served his final year as Mayor of Florence in 1964, he largely devoted himself to the cause of international peace, working to bring an end to conflicts in Vietnam and the Middle East in particular. His work in favor of disarmament and Third World development also merit mention, and the bespectacled Sicilian even travelled to Chile to try to prevent the coup d’état against President Salvador Allende.

In 1976, Giorgio La Pira returned to active politics at the request of the Christian Democratic Party. Despite ill-health, La Pira stood for election and won a seat in the Chamber of Deputies. La Pira’s last actions as a politician reflect the changing problems of the world he lived in. La Pira was a vehement opponent of abortion and fought against its legalization, with L’Osservatore Romano running his article “Confronting Abortion” on its front page on March 19, 1976. La Pira also spoke out against the increasing violence and materialism of modern society, connecting his opposition to abortion to his support for disarmament and world peace.

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On November 05, 1977, Giorgio La Pira passed away. His funeral was unsurprisingly well attended, and the attendees included the thousands of workers whose jobs he saved at the Pignone factory and elsewhere.

Perhaps more than any other member of the Christian Democratic Left, La Pira actively embodied the ideals of a Christian version of social democracy. La Pira put into action his statement that every person was entitled to “a job, a house, and music,” even if it caused many people within his own Christian Democratic Party to accuse him of statism or “spurious Marxism,” as the venerable Don Luigi Sturzo, one of the founders of Italian Christian Democracy, put it.

La Pira responded to Don Sturzo by describing the dire unemployment situation in Florence, particularly among the young, and asking him what he would do if he were mayor. In our own age, when so many people are left out of work, when so many young people cannot start families because the market cannot provide enough work to form the economic basis of family life, Christians cannot shrink in fear from accusations of statism or Marxism. Giorgio La Pira provides us with a bold example of political action in favor of peace, family life, and social justice (including justice for the unborn) with real meaning, not just words.

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In Cardinal Benelli’s sermon preached in the Duomo at La Pira’s funeral, he asserted that “everything about La Pira can be understood through faith, without faith nothing about him can be understood”. Nor is there any doubt that this is the sole key to understanding “the Professor’s” life.

His fundamental working hypothesis, expressed in every sort of circumstance and in every place, was always based on the certainty of the resurrection of Christ: “if Christ be risen, as He is risen…” he used to say, going on to affirm that the entire history of all peoples is conditioned by this event.

“The holiness of our century will have this characteristic. It will be a holiness of laypeople. We encounter on the streets those who within 50 years may be on the altars–along the streets, in factories, in parliament and in university classrooms.” -Giorgio La Pira

O God, You have given to Your servant Giorgio La Pira
the grace to testify admirably in the cultural, social and political life of our time.

Grant us the grace, we ask, that the Church may recognize his heroic virtues and is revered by the Christian people as inspirer of charity, justice, peace. Amen.

“There is no doubt that the Lord had placed in my soul the desire for priestly grace; only, however, that He wished that I remain in my lay garb to labor with more fecundity in the secular world far from Him. But the goal of my life is clearly marked out: to be the Lord’s missionary in the world; and this apostolate will be carried out!”
-April 1931  Giorgio La Pira (from the letter to his aunt, Settimia Occhipinti)

“One last thing: I am not a priest, as you have supposed: Jesus did not want that of me! I am just a young man to whom Jesus has given a great grace: the desire to love Him without limits and to have Him be loved without limits.”
-Easter 1933 (16 April)  Giorgio La Pira (from the letter to the Mother Prioress of Santa Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi)

“Then the LORD asked Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” He answered, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”
-Gen 4:9

Love,
Matthew

Jul 4 – Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, OP, (1901-1925) – The Joy & Gift of Christian Youth

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati is a saint for the modern world, and especially for the young people of our time. Born in 1901 in Turin, Italy, to a rich and politically influential family; his mother was the painter Adelaide Ametis; his father was an agnostic, the founder and editor of the liberal newspaper La Stampa, which opposed many Catholic positions, and became the Italian ambassador to Germany.

Pier Giorgio’s time on earth was short-only 24 years-but he filled it passionately with holy living. He was a model of virtue, a “man of the beatitudes,” as Pope John Paul II called him at the saint’s beatification ceremony in Rome on May 20, 1990.  A pious youth, average student, outstanding athlete and mountain climber, he was extremely popular with his peers.  He was described by friends as “an explosion of joy.” His nickname was “Terror”, due to his incessant practical jokes!  As Pier Giorgio’s sister, Luciana, says of her brother in her biography of him, “He represented the finest in Christian youth: pure, happy, enthusiastic about everything that is good and beautiful.”

To our modern world which is often burdened by cynicism and angst, Pier Giorgio’s life offers a brilliant contrast, a life rich in meaning, purpose, and peace derived from faith in God. From the earliest age, and despite two unreligious parents who misunderstood and disapproved of his piety and intense interest in Catholicism, Pier Giorgio placed Christ first in all that he did. These parental misunderstandings, which were very painful to him, persisted until the day of his sudden death of polio. However, he bore this treatment patiently, silently, and with great love.  He was especially devoted to St Catherine of Siena and St Thomas Aquinas.

Pier Giorgio prayed daily, offering, among other prayers, a daily rosary on his knees by his bedside. Often his agnostic father would find him asleep in this position. “He gave his whole self, both in prayer and in action, in service to Christ,” Luciana Frassati writes. After Pier Giorgio began to attend Jesuit school as a boy, he received a rare permission in those days to take communion daily. “Sometimes he passed whole nights in Eucharistic adoration.” For Pier Giorgio, Christ was the answer. Therefore, all of his action was oriented toward Christ and began first in contemplation of Him. With this interest in the balance of contemplation and action, it is no wonder why Pier Giorgio was drawn in 1922 at the age of 21 to the Fraternities of St. Dominic. In becoming a tertiary, Pier Giorgio chose the name “Girolamo” (Jerome) after his personal hero, Girolamo Savonarola, the fiery Dominican preacher and reformer during the Renaissance in Florence. Pier Giorgio once wrote to a friend, “I am a fervent admirer of this friar (Savonarola), who died as a saint at the stake.”

Pier Giorgio was handsome, vibrant, and natural. These attractive characteristics drew people to him. He had many good friends and he shared his faith with them with ease and openness. He engaged himself in many different apostolates. Pier Giorgio also loved sports. He was an avid outdoorsman and loved hiking, riding horses, skiing, and mountain climbing. He was never one to pass on playing a practical joke, either. He relished laughter and good humor.

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As Luciana points out, “Catholic social teaching could never remain simply a theory with [Pier Giorgio].” He set his faith concretely into action through spirited political activism during the Fascist period in World War I Italy. He lived his faith, too, through discipline with his school work, which was a tremendous cross for him as he was a poor student.  He studied mineralogy in an engineering program.  Most notably, however, Pier Giorgio (like the Dominican St. Martin de Porres) lived his faith through his constant, humble, mostly hidden service to the poorest of Turin. Although Pier Giorgio grew up in a privileged environment, he never lorded over anyone the wealth and prestige of his family. Instead, he lived simply and gave away food, money, or anything that anyone asked of him. It is suspected that he contracted from the very people to whom he was ministering in the slums the polio that would kill him.

Even as Pier Giorgio lay dying, his final week of rapid physical deterioration was an exercise in heroic virtue. His attention was turned outward toward the needs of others and he never drew attention to his anguish, especially since his own grandmother was dying at the same time he was. Pier Giorgio’s heart was surrendered completely to God’s will for him. His last concern was for the poor. On the eve of his death, with a paralyzed hand, he scribbled a message to a friend, reminding the friend not to forget the injections for Converso, a poor man Pier Giorgio had been assisting.

When news of Pier Giorgio’s death on July 4, 1925 reached the neighborhood and city, the Frassati parents, who had no idea about the generous self-donation of their young son, were astonished by the sight of thousands of people crowded outside their mansion on the day of their son’s funeral Mass and burial. The poor, the lonely, and those who had been touched by Pier Giorgio’s love and faithful example had come to pay homage to this luminous model of Christian living.

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Pier Giorgio’s mortal remains were found incorrupt in 1981 and were transferred from the family tomb in the cemetery of Pollone to the Cathedral of Turin.

Frassati Societies exist throughout the world for young people interested in the Catholic faith, often centered around high schools and colleges.  The mission of the societies is to help young people live out the Beatitudes through prayer, service, and fun.

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“I would like for us to pledge a pact which knows no earthly boundaries nor temporal limits:  union in prayer.” – in a letter to his friend, Isidoro Bonini, Jan 15, 1925.

“To live without a Faith, without a patrimony to defend, without a steady struggle for the Truth, is not living but existing.” – Bl Pier Giorgio Frassati

“Sadness ought to be banished from Catholic souls.” -Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati 

“In God’s marvelous plan, Divine Providence often uses the tiniest twigs to do good works.” -Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati

“The faith given to me in baptism suggests to me surely: by yourself you will do nothing, but if you have God as the center of all your action, then you will reach the goal.” -Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati

“We were quietly eating when we heard Marischa’s screams. At first I thought it was thieves, but on reaching the hall and seeing one of them about to cut the telephone wires, I immediately realized that they were the Fascists. My blood raced in my veins. I threw myself at that scoundrel shouting “rascals, cowards, assassins,” and delivered a punch.” — Excerpt from PGF’s letter to his friend Antonio Villani on June 23, 1924, describing his defense of the family home a day earlier. The incident was recounted in papers as far away as the United States.

“We went to the mountains together… There were more than twenty of us, and every time we stopped, Pier Giorgio gave us his little speeches very enthusiastically, comparing our climb in the mountains to our spiritual ascent in our faith in Christ. Even Father Bonino was amazed. He said that he, a priest, hadn’t thought of saying such sublime things to us. Pier Giorgio said, ‘Let’s climb higher and we’ll hear the voice of Christ even better!’” – Testimony of Antonio Valetto

“Pier Giorgio didn’t flee from intimacy; on the contrary, he loved, and thus he overcame the typical Biellese resistance to speaking about love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, something that is central to the Christian life. He left me with an unforgettable impression, so much so that I consider Pier Giorgio to be one of the strongest and most solid souls ever to live in Christ Jesus.” – Testimony of Lorenzo Berra, engineer

“We teased him a bit. He had trouble organizing mountain hikes that didn’t involve missing Sunday Mass, which for him was more important than anything else. This seemed a bother to those who were not so faithful to the Sunday Mass precept, but Pier Giorgio could not give in. He wasn’t a fanatic, but he would not compromise on this.” – Testimony of Carlo Enrico Galimberti, engineer

“I must say that when he prayed, it was something extraordinary. I saw him quite a few times during night-time adoration at San Secondo Church. He was enchanted with the liturgy, and it seemed that the ritual lifted him up to another world. In fact, I never saw anyone else like that boy, who was humility personified.” – Testimony of Emilio Zanzi, journalist

“I watched him in the house of God. Frassati seemed like someone else, someone unrecognizable. I would never have suspected that that young rabble-rouser who was quick to crack a joke was capable of such a radical change. He prayed with exemplary composure. He was never distracted, he remained motionless, with his arms folded, with a posture that was devout and manly at the same time. He was prayer personified, in soul and body.” – Testimony of Maria Tasca, Ph.D.

Happy Fourth of July!
Love,
Matthew

Apr 29 – St Peter of Verona, OP, (1206-1252), Martyr – Credo in unum Deum

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– St Peter Martyr, OP, reminding/encouraging living Dominican religious to maintain holy silence, by Fra Angelico, OP, 1441-1442, fresco, Convento di San Marco, Florence, Italy

I am always, at least a little, scandalized when during Mass, very casually, very nonchalantly, an alternative, “hip”, creed or profession of faith is substituted, is injected as if it were no big deal, even with the best intentions.  I am regularly interrogated by my more orthodox friends where this happens, they are so scandalized, but I don’t name names.

This truly, really shows the ignorance, at best, of those planning and leading the liturgy. Besides being against Church law, and they know better, people have died in wars over one tittle, one, literally, iota, in a word of the Apostles’ Creed.  Every iota, too, is literally packed with meaning, reason, and history.  Take away the iota and, at least in Greek, you change the entire meaning, dramatically – and east cleaves from west, literally, creating schism.  One word becomes another in Greek, with an entirely different meaning.  With all our “diversity and relativism”, it is hard to imagine riots in the streets of Alexandria in Egypt over such things, but common they were.

Growing up Catholic, repetition causes “conditioned response” – occupational hazard.  It’s one of the ways you can tell if someone is Catholic without directly asking them…”The angel of the Lord…and she conceived…”, I suppose even self-proclaimed Catholics might miss that one today, too, tragically.  (As my Latin teacher ALWAYS proclaims, “It’s ALWAYS better in Latin!”)  So much conditioned response, we neglect to really unpack each of those words, each iota, and ask, “Why is that there?  Where did it come from?  Why is it sooooooo important?”  And, there ARE reasons!  REALLY good ones!  So, to chuck the whole thing with, “we’re bored”, or self-anointing – SOMEHOW in 2012, we finally just had the Holy Spirit impart to US what to do?, or just plain ignorance, does take my breath away.

When they make these too, too casual substitutions, I pray to St Watermelon. Let me explain. My dear friend, Julia, who went through RCIA at Old St Pat’s taught me about St Watermelon. Let me explain. Not being able to remember all the prayers, Julia knew that the word “watermelon” forms all the lip movements and mouth movements and gestures, according to Julia, one would be expected to show if actually speaking intelligible words in front of others. Since Julia could not remember all the prayers, she moved her mouth saying, quietly, “watermelon” over and over, try it sometime when you need to look like you’re participating but don’t know how or don’t want to.

So, when random, strange sequences, no matter how beautiful or well intentioned to some beholders, are offered, I either say the word “watermelon”, or remain silent, the “silent Irish” is my most favorite new expression, to expressly demonstrate, in my heart and to God, my disunity with what is being offered at that time, in what is supposed to be a prayer of unity. You’ll see what I mean below. “St Watermelon”, were you real, pray for us!

P.S. And the new translation of the Mass?  Pee-yoo!  I am not a fan.  The Four Liturgists of the Apocalypse.  It’s just bad English.  Exactly what we don’t need now, or ever.  Silly.  Stupid.  I haven’t responded at Mass since November.  So much for “full & active participation”.  The words won’t come out.  Not those words.  I will be the “silent Irish” for the rest of my life at Mass, assuming continued attendance.  Forty-six years and you really start to think, maybe I need a break.  Maybe I need something new?  A religion with a hierarchy primarily necessitates faith, hope, and love as a requirement.  I’m tired.  Jesus, and the ghosts of my parents, prod me.  I keep going.

Such a magnificent Church with such a magnificent patrimony; truly the People of God, and leadership which makes my eyes cross.  They’re just as human as atheists, I realize.  Just like the Keystone Apostles who are one minute in Scripture swearing to die to defend Jesus, and the next…crickets chirping.  All have taken a powder.  Peter going as far as “Oh, Hell no!”  There are too many saint stories where they had to put up with the all too human nature and shortcomings of their leaders/superiors.  “I came to serve, not to be served.”  The washing of the feet – humility is the most important virtue of the Christian cleric.  How true.

I just need something a little more inspiring if I am going to believe.  The hierarchy make me wonder often if they’ve ever actually read the Gospels.  They give me a headache.  Only the Keystone Apostles give me hope, in this regard…and my saint friends.  They sustain me.  To have faith is to have doubts.  Otherwise, it wouldn’t be faith, would it?  To have faith is to struggle.  How does the old joke go?  If you want to lose your faith, go to work for the Church?

1280px-Attributed_to_Bernardino_da_Asola_-_The_Death_of_Saint_Peter_Martyr_-_Google_Art_Project
-The Death of Saint Peter Martyr, OP, attributed to Bernardino da Asola (1490-1535), oil on canvas, height: 101.5 cm (40 in). width: 144.8 cm (57 in), National Gallery, Central Hall – Northern Italy 1500-1580, Trafalgar Square in the City of Westminster, in Central London.

-The following article was written by Fr. Darren Pierre, O.P., Promoter for the Lay and Priestly Fraternities of St. Dominic, Province of St. Joseph.

“I heard a story about a young boy named Peter whose parents were fallen away Catholics. Peter’s parents had traded their Catholic faith for fad beliefs that were more convenient and fit in better with their family and friends. Catharism, or Cathars, Albigensians, Manicheaism, etc., held all material reality was created by an evil god, and all spiritual reality, which was the work of a good god – Dualism.  Heresy, untruth in light of the orthodox, universal Christian faith handed on by the Apostles.  However, like many fallen away Catholics, they didn’t take their new beliefs very seriously either.

In fact, they reasoned that all these little details really didn’t matter—one religion was just as good as another. Because they felt this way, they decided to send Peter to a Catholic school as it was regarded as the best school in the area, even though they didn’t follow the Catholic faith anymore.

However, Peter’s uncle, who had also left the Catholic faith, took his rejection of the Faith much more seriously. One day he asked Peter what he was learning in school, and Peter responding by reciting the Apostle’s Creed. Peter’s uncle was outraged and didn’t want his nephew learning any of this Catholic nonsense. He tried to convince Peter’s parents to take him out of that school. Yet, despite his protests, Peter’s parents didn’t see it as a big deal. To them it was an unimportant argument about words—prayers that children memorized. In the end they figured it was all the same and didn’t really matter, so they let Peter stay in that school.

Every means was used to persuade Peter, and even to oblige him to say, that all material things are the work of the devil, or the evil principle. “No,” replied the youthful disciple of Christ; “there is but one first principle, the supreme God, omnipotent, and the sole Creator of heaven and earth – Credo in unum Deum. Whoever does not believe this truth can not be saved.” The heretical uncle, confused by his defeat, and foreseeing what might come to pass, spoke sharply to his brother, and told him that the best thing he could do would be to take the boy out of the hands of Catholics as soon as possible. “For,” he added, “I fear lest, when he becomes older and better instructed, he may destroy our religion, should he pass over to the prostitute” -– the name by which he designated the Catholic Church.

Peter’s Uncle was correct about one important thing: words do matter. The words of the Creed have always been precious to us Christians. The early Christians called them the Symbol of Faith. It was a symbol or mark that outwardly showed what was invisibly believed. Of course, the ultimate object of our faith is God Himself. Our faith is in the Word, not in mere words no matter how true or precious that might be. Yet, the words do matter. The words of the Creed are called secondary objects of faith because they connect us with God, the primary object of faith, Whom we cannot see. If the details of the secondary objects are wrong, we are not able to be as connected to God. Ultimately, if our secondary objects are wrong enough they will connect us not with God, Who created us and loves us, but with an imaginary god that is not real and loves us no more than an ancient pagan idol.

The Creed tells us who God is. When you love someone, you want to know about them. You can’t have a relationship without this kind of knowledge, for in relationships all these little details matter. Imagine forgetting a spouse’s birthday or anniversary and saying, “Oh, we’ll celebrate it next week. It’s all the same, we shouldn’t fight about details.” Knowing these details is crucial for maintaining a relationship with someone. Little children want to know your favorite color or favorite food. As we get older, hopefully we want to know more important and deeper things about each other. In a relationship with God just as in a relationship with another human being, we would never conclude that the details don’t matter and it’s all the same…

The precise details of the creeds have led countless Christians to God, including the young boy named Peter whom I mentioned in the beginning. Although Peter’s story sounds very modern, it actually took place back in the 1200’s in the city of Verona in what is modern day Italy. The truths of the Faith that Peter learned in the Apostles’ Creed became so important to him that he became a Dominican in order to preach that truth.

He was received into the Order of Friars Preachers by St. Dominic himself in those very first days of the Order. He spent the rest of his life preaching about the truth of God to people who had fallen away from Faith like his own family and guiding many of them back to the Church.

He was so successful that the leaders of those who opposed him conspired to assassinate him. On April 6th, 1252, they ambushed Peter and a traveling companion on a lonely road outside of Milan. The assassins grievously wounded Peter’s traveling companion and struck Peter on the head with an axe-like implement. As he was being attacked, Peter began to recite the Creed, the Symbol of Faith for which he would give his life.

When he collapsed under the blows and lay dying in the road, Peter dipped his finger in his own blood and wrote on the ground the beginning of the Creed: Credo in unum Deum. The words of a Creed brought him the Faith when he was a child. They guided his preaching as he sought to serve God throughout his life, and they expressed his love of God as he lay dying. The young boy from Verona became St. Peter of Verona, often called simply St. Peter Martyr.”

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-The Death of St. Peter Martyr, 1530/35, Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo, Italian, active 1506–48, oil on canvas, 45 5/16 x 55 1/2 in. (115.3 x 141 cm), Art Institute of Chicago

————————————–

Born in the city of Verona into a family perhaps sympathetic to the Cathar heresy. Peter went to a Catholic school, and later to the University of Bologna, where he is said to have maintained his orthodoxy and at the age of fifteen, met Saint Dominic. Peter joined the Order of the Friars Preachers (Dominicans) and became a celebrated preacher throughout northern and central Italy.

From the 1230s on, Peter preached against heresy, and especially Catharism, which had many adherents in thirteenth-century Northern Italy. Catharism was a form of dualism, also called Manichaeism, and rejected the authority of the Pope and many Christian teachings. Pope Gregory IX appointed him General Inquisitor for northern Italy in 1234. and Peter evangelized nearly the whole of Italy, preaching in Rome, Florence, Bologna, Genoa, and Como.

In 1251, Pope Innocent IV recognized Peter’s virtues, and appointed him Inquisitor in Lombardy. He spent about six months in that office and it is unclear whether he was ever involved in any trials. His one recorded act was a declaration of clemency for those confessing heresy or sympathy to heresy.

In his sermons he denounced heresy and also those Catholics who professed the Faith by words, but acted contrary to it in deeds. Crowds came to meet him and followed him; conversions were numerous, including many Cathars who returned to orthodoxy.

Because of this, a group of Milanese Cathars conspired to kill him. They hired an assassin, one Carino of Balsamo. Carino’s accomplice was Manfredo Clitoro of Giussano. On April 6, 1252, when Peter was returning from Como to Milan, the two assassins followed Peter to a lonely spot near Barlassina, and there killed him and mortally wounded his companion, a fellow friar named Dominic.

Carino struck Peter’s head with an axe and then attacked Domenico. Peter rose to his knees, and recited the first article of the Symbol of the Apostles (the Apostle’s Creed). Offering his blood as a sacrifice to God, he dipped his fingers in it and wrote on the ground: “Credo in Unum Deum”. The blow that killed him cut off the top of his head, but the testimony given at the inquest into his death confirms that he began reciting the Creed when he was attacked.

Carino, the assassin, later repented and confessed his crime. He converted to orthodoxy and eventually became a lay brother in the Dominican convent of Forlì. He is the subject of a local cult as Blessed Carino of Balsamo.

Bellini, Murder of St Peter Martyr 1509.jpg
-Assassination of St Peter Martyr, O.P., Bellini, 1509, oil on panel, 67.3 x 100.4 cm, Courtald Institute, London, on the left St Peter the Martyr is represented as being murdered by Pietro da Balsamo, a heretic. On the right another monk, Fra Domenico, tries in vain to escape.

Here silent is Christ’s Herald;
Here quenched, the People’s Light;
Here lies the martyred Champion
Who fought Faith’s holy fight.

The Voice the sheep heard gladly,
The light they loved to see
He fell beneath the weapons
Of graceless Cathari.

The Saviour crowns His Soldier;
His praise the people psalm.
The Faith he kept adorns him
With martyr’s fadeless palm.

His praise new marvels utter,
New light he spreads abroad
And now the whole wide city
Knows well the path to God.

– Saint Thomas Aquinas, OP, in eulogy of Saint Peter of Verona, OP

Love,
Matthew

Apr 7 – St Henry Walpole, SJ, (1558-1595), Martyr, Poet, Priest

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Son of Christopher & Margery, from a large family of boys, witty & bon vivant, in his early twenties, Henry Walpole was indifferent to sufferings of his fellow Englishmen for their beliefs until he attended the execution of the well known Edmund Campion, SJ, and blood from the martyr fell upon him.  A baptism?  Surely.  Of the most profound kind.  Henry Walpole was inspired by the courage of the Jesuit martyr to become a priest for his native England.  A conversion had begun…deep and profound.  Falling in love.

He was arrested, however, almost as soon as he set foot on English soil and spent more time being tortured in prison than some Jesuits spent ministering the sacraments. Walpole had been born Catholic but was not sure which direction to follow in the religious controversy that roiled England. He attended the discussions that Campion held with Anglican divines and been impressed with the Jesuit’s zeal and preaching.   He was also present at the Jesuit poet’s execution. A drop of Campion’s blood fell on his clothes from the martyr’s quartered body, confirming his sense that God was calling him to follow in Campion’s footsteps. He even wrote a poem honoring the dead Jesuit.

“Why do I use my paper, ink and pen?
Or call my wits counsel what to say?
Such memories were made for mortal man,
I speak of saints, whose names cannot decay.
Angel’s trump were meter far to sound
Their glorious deaths, if such on earth were found.
His native flowers were mixed with herb of grace.
His mild behavior tempered well with skill.
A lowly mind possessed a learned place.
A sugared speech, rare and virtuous will.
A saint like man set in earth below.
The Tower says the truth he did defend,
The Bar bears witness of his guiltless mind.
Tyburn doth tell, he made a patient end.
In every gate his martyrdom we find
In vain you wrought, that would obscure his name,
For heaven and earth will still record the same.
You thought perhaps when learned Campion dies,
His pen must cease, his sugared tongue be still.
But you forget how loud his death it cries,
How far beyond the sound of tongue and guile.
You did not know how rare and great and good,
It was to write his precious gifts in blood.”

Walpole studied at Cambridge and then moved to London to study law, but then changed direction and decided to become a priest. Described a year later after witnessing Campion’s execution as “discreet, grave, and pious”, he entered the English College in Rheims, France in July 1582 and then moved to Rome nine months later. On Feb. 4, 1584 he joined the Society of Jesus and completed his studies at the Scots College at Pont-à-Mousson, France. After he was ordained in Paris, he was assigned to be chaplain to English Catholic refugees serving in the Spanish army in the Low Countries.

He spent a year in prison after he was captured by the Calvinists in 1589, and then worked at the English seminary in Valladolid, Spain until he was finally asked to return to England in 1593. The Jesuit, his brother and an English soldier sailed together on a French ship headed for Scotland because the southern ports of England were closed because of the plague.

On Dec. 4, 1593, the three passengers were put ashore at Flamborough Head, Yorkshire, after 10 days of stormy sailing, but separated on land. Father Walpole was resting at an inn 10 miles inland when he was arrested for being a priest; he had been betrayed by a fellow passenger who was earning money to buy his way out of prison.

One night of freedom in England was followed by 16 months of imprisonment.  Walpole admitted during his first interrogation that he was a Jesuit and had come to England to convert people. He was transferred to York Castle for three months, and was permitted to leave the prison to discuss theology with Protestant visitors. Then he was transferred to the Tower of London at the end of February, 1594, so that the notorious priest-torturer Richard Topcliffe could wrest information from him. Walpole was tortured brutally on the rack and was suspended by his wrists for hours, but Topcliffe stretched the tortures out over the course of a year to prevent an accidental death.  While still able to write, Henry wrote to a fellow Jesuit at a monastery in Yorkshire about his ordeal, he wrote: “…I hope, through the merits of my most sweet Saviour and Lord, that I shall be always ready, whether living or dying, to glorify Him, which will be for my eternal happiness.”

Walpole endured torture 14 different times before being returned in 1595 to York to stand trial under the law that made it high treason for an Englishman simply to return home after receiving Holy Orders abroad. The man who had once aspired to be a lawyer defended himself ably, pointing out that the law only applied to priests who had not given themselves up to officials within three days of arrival. He himself had been arrested less than a day after landing in England, so he had not violated that law.  The judges responded by demanding that he take the Oath of Supremacy, acknowledging the queen’s complete authority in religion. He refused to do so and was convicted of high treason.

On April 7, Walpole was dragged out of York to be executed along with another priest, Bl. Alexander Rawlins of the Diocese of Gloucester, who was killed first. Then the Jesuit climbed the ladder to the gallows and asked the onlookers to pray with him. After he finished the Our Father but before he could say the Hail Mary, the executioner pushed him away from the ladder; then he was taken down and dismembered.  In St Henry Walpole, SJ, Catholics received yet another example of fidelity and courage.

When asked to join in prayer with Protestants for his own peaceful death he said “that by the grace of God he was in peace with all the world, and prayed God for all, particularly those who were the cause of his death; but as they were with them; yet he heartily prayed for them, that God would enlighten them with His truth, bring them back to His Church, and dispose them for His mercy” …he also prayed: “…may His Divine Majesty never suffer me to consent to the least thing by which He may be dishonored, nor you to desire it of me, and God is my witness, that to all here present, and particularly to my accusers, I wish as to myself the salvation of their souls, and to this end they may live in the true Catholic Faith, the only way to eternal happiness.”


– Henry Walpole, SJ, artist unknown, from the Plaid Bedchamber of Strawberry Hill House


-“Henry Walpole, priest of the Society of Jesus” in Latin.  Please click on the image for greater detail.

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-inscription left by St Henry Walpole, SJ, in his prison cell in the Salt/Beauchamp Tower, Tower of London.  Below his name, more lightly inscribed, he imprinted the Latin names of Sts Paul & Peter, along with those of Sts Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine, & Gregory, four Doctors of the  early Church.

Henry Walpole, SJ’s ghost supposedly haunts Anmer Hall, where William & Kate, Duke & Duchess of Cambridge, are happy to raise Prince George.

Almighty and everlasting God,
Who kindled the flame of Your love in the heart of Your holy martyr
St Henry Walpole, SJ,
Grant to us, Your humble servants,
a like faith and power of love
that we who rejoice in their triumph may profit by their example;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Love,
Matthew

Decem Rationes – St Edmund Campion, SJ (1540-1581)

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Edmund Campion, to the Learned Members of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, Greeting.

Last year, Gentlemen, when in accordance with my calling in life I returned under orders to this Island, I found on the shore of England not a little wilder waves than those I had recently left behind in the British Seas. As thereupon I made my way into the interior of England, I had no more familiar sight than that of unusual executions, no greater certainty than the uncertainty of threatening dangers. I gathered my wits together as best I could, remembering the cause which I was serving and the times in which I lived. And lest I might perhaps be arrested before I had got a hearing from any one, I at once put my purpose in writing, stating who I was, what was my errand, what war I thought of declaring and upon whom. I kept the original document on my person, that it might be taken with me, if I were taken. I deposited a copy with a friend, and this copy, without my knowledge, was shown to many. Adversaries took very ill the publication of the paper. What they particularly disliked and blamed was my having offered to hold the field alone against all comers in this matter of religion, though to be sure I should not have been alone had I disputed under a public safe conduct. Hanmer and Chartres have replied to my demands. What is the tenour of their reply? All off the point. The only honest answer for them to give is one they will never give: “We embrace the conditions, the Queen pledges her word, come at once.” Meanwhile they fill the air with their cries: “Your conspiracy! your seditious proceedings! your arrogance! traitor! aye marry, traitor!” The whole thing is absurd. These men are not fools: why are they wasting their pains and damaging their own reputation?

Nevertheless, in reply to these two gentlemen (one of whom has chosen my paper to run at for his amusement, the other more maliciously has confused the whole issue) there has recently been presented a very clear memorial setting forth all that need be said about our Society and their calumnies and the part that we are taking. The only course left open to me (since as I see, it is tortures, not academic disputations, that the high-priests are making ready) was to make good to you the account of my conduct; to show you the chief heads and point my finger to the sources from whence I derive this confidence; to exhort you also, as it is your concern above others, to give to this business that attention which Christ, the Church, the Common Weal, and your own salvation demand of you. If it were confidence in my own talents, erudition, art, reading, memory, that led me to challenge all the skill that could be brought against me, then were I the vainest and proudest of mortals, not having considered either myself or my opponents. But if, with my cause before my eyes, I thought myself competent to show that the sun here shines at noon-day, you ought to allow in me that heat which the honour of Jesus Christ, my King, and the unconquered force of truth have put upon me. You know how in Marcus Tullius’s speech for Publius Quintius, when Roscius promised that he should win the case if he could make out by arguments that a journey of 700 miles had not been accomplished in two days, Cicero not only had no fear of all the force of the pleading of the opposing counsel, Hortensius, but could not have been afraid even of greater orators than Hortensius, men of the stamp of Cotta and Antonius and Crassus, whose reputation for speaking he set higher than that of all other men: for truth does sometimes stand out in so clear a light that no artifice of word or deed can hide it. Now the case on our side is clearer even than that position of Roscius. I have only to evince this, that there is a Heaven, that there is a God, that there is a Faith, that there is a Christ, and I have gained my cause. Standing on such ground should I not pluck up heart? I may be killed, beaten I cannot be. I take my stand on those Doctors, whom that Spirit has instructed who is neither deceived nor overcome.

I beg of you, consent to be saved. Of those from whom I obtain this consent I expect without the least doubt that all the rest will follow. Only give yourselves up to take interest in this inquiry, entreat Christ, add efforts of your own, and certainly you will perceive how the case lies, how our adversaries are in despair, and ourselves so solidly founded that we cannot but desire this conflict with serene and high courage. I am brief here, because I address you in the rest of my discourse. Farewell.

RATIONES OBLATI CERTAMINIS

“I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to resist and gainsay.” Luc. 21. 15.

Rationum capita

1. Holy Writ.
2. The Sense of Holy Writ.
3. The Nature of the Church.
4. Councils.
5. Fathers.
6. The Grounds of Argument Assumed by the Fathers.
7. History.
8. Paradoxes.
9. Sophism.
10. All Manner of Witness.

FIRST REASON

HOLY WRIT

Of the many signs that tell of the adversaries’ mistrust of their own cause, none declares it so loudly as the shameful outrage they put upon the majesty of the Holy Bible. After they have dismissed with scorn the utterances and suffrages of the rest of the witnesses, they are nevertheless brought to such straits that they cannot hold their own otherwise than by laying violent hands on the divine volumes themselves, thereby showing beyond all question that they are brought to their last stand, and are having recourse to the hardest and most extreme of expedients to retrieve their desperate and ruined fortunes. What induced the Manichees to tear out the Gospel of Matthew and the Acts of the Apostles? Despair. For these volumes were a torment to men who denied Christ’s birth of a Virgin, and who pretended that the Spirit then first descended upon Christians when their peculiar Paraclete, a good-for-nothing Persian, made his appearance. What induced the Ebionites to reject all St. Paul’s Epistles? Despair. For while those Letters kept their credit, the custom of circumcision, which these men had reintroduced, was set aside as an anachronism. What induced that crime-laden apostate Luther to call the Epistle of James contentious, turgid, arid, a thing of straw, and unworthy of the Apostolic spirit? Despair. For by this writing the wretched man’s argument of righteousness consisting in faith alone was stabbed through and rent assunder. What induced Luther’s whelps to expunge off-hand from the genuine canon of Scripture, Tobias, Ecclesiasticus, Maccabees, and, for hatred of these, several other books involved in the same false charge? Despair. For by these Oracles they are most manifestly confuted whenever they argue about the patronage of Angels, about free will, about the faithful departed, about the intercession of Saints.

Is it possible? So much perversity, so much audacity? After trampling underfoot Church, Councils, Episcopal Sees, Fathers, Martyrs, Potentates, Peoples, Laws, Universities, Histories, all vestiges of Antiquity and Sanctity, and declaring that they would settle their disputes by the written word of God alone, to think that they should have emasculated that same Word, which alone was left, by cutting out of the whole body so many excellent and goodly parts! Seven whole books, to ignore lesser diminutions, have the Calvinists cut out of the Old Testament. The Lutherans take away the Epistle of James besides, and, in their dislike of that, five other Epistles, about which there had been controversy of old in certain places and times. To the number of these the latest authorities at Geneva add the book of Esther and about three chapters of Daniel, which their fellow-disciples, the Anabaptists, had some time before condemned and derided.

How much greater was the modesty of Augustine (“De doct. Christ. lib.” 2, c. 8.), who, in making his catalogue of the Sacred Books, did not take for his rule the Hebrew Alphabet, like the Jews, nor private judgment, like the Sectaries, but that Spirit wherewith Christ animates the whole Church. The Church, the guardian of this treasure, not its mistress (as heretics falsely make out), vindicated publicly in former times by very ancient Councils this entire treasure, which the Council of Trent has taken up and embraced. Augustine also in a special discussion on one small portion of Scripture cannot bring himself to think that any man’s rash murmuring should be permitted to thrust out of the Canon the book of Wisdom, which even in his time had obtained a sure place as a well-authenticated and Canonical book in the reckoning of the Church, the judgment of ages, the testimony of ancients, and the sense of the faithful. What would he say now if he were alive on earth, and saw men like Luther and Calvin manufacturing Bibles, filing down Old and New Testament with a neat pretty little file of their own, setting aside, not the book of wisdom alone, but with it very many others from the list of Canonical Books? Thus whatever does not come out from their shop, by a mad decree, is liable to be, spat upon by all as a rude and barbarous composition.

They who have stooped to this dire and execrable way of saving themselves surely are beaten, overthrown, and flung rolling in the dust, for all their fine praises that are in the mouths of their admirers, for all their traffic in priesthoods, for all their bawling in pulpits, for all their sentencing of Catholics to chains, rack and gallows. Seated in their armchairs as censors, as though any one had elected them to that office, they seize their pens and mark passages as spurious even in God’s own Holy Writ, putting their pens through whatever they cannot stomach. Can any fairly educated man be afraid of battalions of such enemies? If in the midst of your learned body they had recourse to such trickster’s arts, calling like wizards upon their familiar spirit, you would shout at them, – you would stamp your feet at them. For instance I would ask them what right they have to rend and mutilate the body of the Bible. They would answer that they do not cut out true Scriptures, but prune away supposititious accretions. By authority of what judge? By the Holy Ghost. This is the answer prescribed by Calvin (“Instit.” lib. I, c. 7), for escaping this judgment of the Church whereby spirits of prophesy are examined. Why then do some of you tear out one piece of Scripture, and others another, whereas you all boast of being led by the same Spirit?

The Spirit of the Calvinists receives six Epistles which do not please the Lutheran Spirit, both all the while in full confidence reposing on the Holy Ghost. The Anabaptists call the book of Job a fable, intermixed with tragedy and comedy. How do they know? The Spirit has taught them. Whereas the Song of Solomon is admired by Catholics as a paradise of the soul, a hidden manna, and rich delight in Christ, Castalio, a lewd rogue, has reckoned it nothing better than a love-song about a mistress, and an amorous conversation with Court flunkeys. Whence drew he that intimation? From the Spirit. In the Apocalypse of John, every jot and tittle of which Jerane declares to bear some lofty and magnificent meaning, Luther and Brent and Kemnitz, critics hard to please, find something wanting, and are inclined to throw over the whole book. Whom have they consulted? The Spirit. Luther with preposterous heat pits the Four Gospels one against another (“Praef. in Nov. Test.”), and far prefers Paul’s Epistles to the first three, while he declares the Gospel of St. John above the rest to be beautiful, true, and worthy of mention in the first place, – thereby enrolling even the Apostles, so far as in him lay, as having a hand in his quarrels. Who taught him to do that? The Spirit. Nay this imp of a friar has not hesitated in petulant style to assail Luke’s Gospel because therein good and virtuous works are frequently commended to us. Whom did he consult? The Spirit. Theodore Beza has dared to carp at, as a corruption and perversion of the original, that mystical word from the twenty-second chapter of Luke, “this is the chalice, the new testament in my blood, which (chalice) shall be shed for you” [Greek: potaerion ekchunomenon], because this language admits of no explanation other than that of the wine in the chalice being converted into the true blood of Christ. Who pointed that out? The Spirit. In short, in believing all things every man in the faith of his own spirit, they horribly belie and blaspheme the name of the Holy Ghost. So acting, do they not give themselves away? are they not easily refuted? In an assembly of learned men, such as yours, Gentlemen of the University, are they not caught and throttled without trouble? Should I be afraid on behalf of the Catholic faith to dispute with these men, who have handled with the utmost ill faith not human but heavenly utterances?

I say nothing here of their perverse versions of Scripture, though I could accuse them in this respect of intolerable doings. I will not take the bread out of the mouth of that great linguist, my fellow-Collegian, Gregory Martin, who will do this work with more learning and abundance of detail than I could; nor from others whom I understand already to have that task in hand. More wicked and more abominable is the crime that I am now prosecuting, that there have been found upstart Doctors who have made a drunken onslaught on the handwriting that is of heaven; who have given judgment against it as being in many places defiled, defective, false, surreptitious; who have corrected some passages, tampered with others; torn out others; who have converted every bulwark wherewith it was guarded into Lutheran “spirits,” what I may call phantom ramparts and parted walls. All this they have done that they might not be utterly dumbfounded by falling upon Scripture texts contrary to their errors, texts which they would have found it as hard to get over as to swallow hot ashes or chew stones.

This then has been my First Reason, a strong and a just one. By revealing the shadowy and broken powers of the adverse faction, it has certainly given new courage to a Christian man, not unversed in these studies, to fight for the Letters Patent of the Eternal King against the remnant of a routed foe.

SECOND REASON

THE SENSE OF HOLY WRIT

Another thing to incite me to the encounter, and to disparage in my eyes the poor forces of the enemy, is the habit of mind which they continually display in their exposition of the Scriptures, full of deceit, void of wisdom. As philosophers, you would seize these points at once. Therefore I have desired to have you for my audience.

Suppose, for example, we ask our adversaries on what ground they have concocted that novel and sectarian opinion which banishes Christ from the Mystic Supper. If they name the Gospel, we meet them promptly. On our side are the words, “this is my body, this is my blood.” This language seemed to Luther himself so forcible, that for all his strong desire to turn Zwinglian, thinking by that means to make it most awkward for the Pope, nevertheless he was caught and fast bound by this most open context, and gave in to it (Luther, epistol. ad Argent.), and confessed Christ truly present in the Most Holy Sacrament no less unwillingly than the demons of old, overcome by His miracles, cried aloud that He was Christ, the Son of God. Well then, the written text gives us the advantage: the dispute now turns on the sense of what is written. Let us examine this from the words in the context, “my body which is given for you, my blood which hall be shed for many.” Still the explanation on Calvin’s side is most hard, on ours easy and quite plain. What further? Compare the Scriptures, they say, one with another. By all means. The Gospels agree, Paul concurs. The words, the clauses, the whole sentence reverently repeat living bread, signal miracle, heavenly food, flesh, body, blood. There is nothing enigmatical, nothing befogged with a mist of words.

Still our adversaries hold on and make no end of altercation. What are we to do? I presume, Antiquity should be heard; and what we, two parties suspect of one another, cannot settle, let it be settled by the decision of venerable ancient men of all past ages, as being nearer Christ and further removed from this contention. They cannot stand that, they protest that they are being betrayed, they appeal to the word of God pure and simple, they turn away from the comments of men. Treacherous and fatuous excuse. We urge the word of God, they darken the meaning of it. We appeal to the witness of the Saints as interpreters, they withstand them. In short their position is that there shall be no trial, unless you stand by the judgment of the accused party.

And so they behave in every controversy which we start. On infused grace, on inherent justice, on the visible Church, on the necessity of Baptism, on Sacraments and Sacrifice, on the merits of the good, on hope and fear, on the difference of guilt in sins, on the authority of Peter, on the keys, on vows, on the evangelical counsels, on other such points, we Catholics have cited and discussed Scripture texts not a few, and of much weight, everywhere in books, in meetings, in churches, in the Divinity School: they have eluded them. We have brought to bear upon them the “scholia” of the ancients, Greek and Latin: they have refused them. What then is their refuge? Doctor Martin Luther, or else Philip (Melancthon), or anyhow Zwingle, or beyond doubt Calvin and Besa have faithfully laid down the facts. Can I suppose any of you to be so dull of sense as not to perceive this artifice when he is told of it? Wherefore I must confess how earnestly I long for the University Schools as a place where, with you looking on, I could call those carpet-knights out of their delicious retreats into the heat and dust of action, and break their power, not by any strength of my own, – for I am not comparable, not one per cent., with the rest of our people; – but by force of strong case and most certain truth.

THIRD REASON

THE NATURE OF THE CHURCH

At hearing the name of the Church the enemy has turned pale. Still he has devised some explanation which I wish you to notice, that you may observe the ruinous and poverty-stricken estate of falsehood. He was well aware that in the Scriptures, as well of Prophets as of Apostles, everywhere there is made honourable mention of the Church: that it is called the holy city, the fruitful vine, the high mountain, the straight way, the only dove, the kingdom of heaven, the spouse and body of Christ, the ground of truth, the multitude to whom the Spirit has been promised and into whom He breathes all truths that make for salvation; her on whom, taken as a whole, the devil’s jaws are never to inflict a deadly bite; her against whom whoever rebels, however much he preach Christ with his mouth, has no more hold on Christ than the publican or the heathen.

Such a loud pronouncement he dared not gainsay; he would not seem rebellious against a Church of which the Scriptures make such frequent mention: so he cunningly kept the name, while by his definition he utterly abolished the thing, He has depicted the Church with such properties as altogether hide her away, and leave her open to the secret gaze of a very few men, as though she were removed from the senses, like a Platonic Idea. They only could discern her, who by a singular inspiration had got the faculty of grasping with their intelligence this aerial body, and with keen eye regarding the members of such a company. What has become of candour and straightforwardness? What Scripture texts or Scripture meanings or authorities of Fathers thus portray the Church? There are letters of Christ to the Asiatic Churches (Apoc. i. 3), letters of Peter, Paul, John, and others to various Churches; frequent mention in the Acts of the Apostles of the origin and spread of Churches. What of these Churches? Were they visible to God alone and holy men, or to Christians of every rank and degree?

But, doubtless, necessity is a hard weapon. Pardon these subterfuges. Throughout the whole course of fifteen centuries these men find neither town, village nor household professing their doctrine, until an unhappy monk by an incestuous marriage had deflowered a virgin vowed to God, or a Swiss gladiator had conspired against his country, or a branded runaway had occupied Geneva. These people, if they want to have a Church at all, are compelled to crack up a Church all hidden away; and to claim parents whom they themselves have never known, and no mortal has ever set eyes on. Perhaps they glory in the ancestry of men whom every one knows to have been heretics, such as Aerius, Jovinianus, Vigilantius, Helvidius, Berengarius, the Waldenses, the Lollards, Wycliffe, Huss, of whom they have begged sundry poisonous fragments of dogmas.

Wonder not that I have no fear of their empty talk: once I can meet them in the noon-day, I shall have no trouble in dispelling such vapourings. Our conversation with them would take this line. Tell me, do you subscribe to the Church which flourished in bygone ages? Certainly. Let us traverse, then, different countries and periods. What Church? The assembly of the faithful. What faithful? Their names are unknown, but it is certain that there have been many of them. Certain? to whom is it certain? To God Who says so! We, who have been taught of God – stuff and nonsense, how am I to believe it? If you had the fire of faith in you, you would know it as well as you know you are alive. Let in as spectators, could you withhold your laughter?

To think that all Christians should be bidden to join the Church; to beware of being cut down by the spiritual sword; to keep peace in the house of God; to trust their soul to the Church as to the pillar of truth; to lay all their complaints before the Church; to hold for heathen all who are cast out of the Church; and that nevertheless so many men for so many centuries should not know where the Church is or who belong to it! This much only they prate in the darkness, that wherever the Church is, only Saints and persons destined for heaven are contained in it.

Hence it follows that whoever wishes to withdraw himself from the authority of his ecclesiastical superior has only to persuade himself that the priest has fallen into sin and is quite cut off from the Church. Knowing as I did that the adversaries were inventing these fictions, contrary to the customary sense of the Churches in all ages, and that, having lost the whole substance, they still wished in their difficulties to retain the name, I took comfort in the thought of your sagacity, and so promised myself that, as soon as ever you had cognisance of such artifices by their own confession, you would at once like men of mark and intelligence rend asunder the web of foolish sophistry woven for your undoing.

FOURTH REASON

COUNCILS

In the infant Church a grave question about lawful ceremonies, which troubled the minds of believers, was solved by the gathering of a Council of Apostles and elders. The Children believed their parents, the sheep their shepherds, commanding in their words, “It hath seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us” (Acts xv). There followed for the extirpation of various heresies in various several ages, four Oecumenical Councils of the ancients, the doctrine whereof was so well established that a thousand years ago (see St. Gregory the Great’s Epistles, lib. i. cap. 24) singular honour was paid to it as to an utterance of God. I will travel no further abroad. Even in our home, in Parliament (ann. 1 Elisabeth), the same Councils keep their former right and their dignity inviolate. These I will cite, and I will call thee, England, my sweet country, to witness. If, as thou professest, thou wilt reverence these four Councils, thou shalt give chief honour to the Bishop of the first See, that is to Peter: thou shalt recognise on the altar the unbloody sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ: thou shalt beseech the blessed martyrs and all the saints to intercede with Christ on thy behalf: thou shalt restrain womanish apostates from unnatural vice and public incest: thou shalt do many things that thou art undoing, and wish undone much that thou art doing. Furthermore, I promise and undertake to show, when opportunity offers, that the Synods of other ages, and notably the Synod of Trent, have been of the same authority and credence as the first.

Armed therefore with the strong and choice support of all the Councils, why should I not enter into this arena with calmness and presence of mind, watchful to keep an eye on my adversary and see on what point he will show himself? I will produce testimonies most evident that he cannot wrest aside. Possibly he will take to scolding, and endeavour to talk against time, but he will not elude the eyes and ears of men who will watch him hard, as you will do, if you are the men I take you for.

But if there shall be any one found so stark mad as to set his single self up as a match for the senators of the world, men whose greatness, holiness, learning and antiquity is beyond all exception, I shall be glad to look upon that face of impudence; and when I have shown it to you, I will leave the rest to your own thoughts. Meanwhile I will say thus much: The man who refuses consideration and weight to a Plenary Council, brought to a conclusion in due and orderly fashion, seems to me witless, brainless, a dullard in theology, and a fool in politics. If ever the Spirit of God has shone upon the Church, then surely is the time for the sending of divine aid, when the most manifest religiousness, ripeness of judgment, science, wisdom, dignity of all the Churches on earth have flocked together in one city, and with employment of all means, divine and human, for the investigation of truth, implore the promised Spirit that they may make wholesome and prudent decrees.

Let there now leap to the front some mannikin master of an heretical faction, let him arch his eyebrows, turn up his nose, rub his forehead, and scurrilously take upon himself to judge his judges, what sport, what ridicule will he excite! There was found a Luther to say that he preferred to Councils the opinions of two godly and learned men (say his own and Philip Melanchthon’s) when they agreed in the name of Christ. Oh what quackery! There was found a Kemnitz to try the Council of Trent by the standard of his own rude and giddy humour. What gained he thereby? Infamy. While he, unless he takes care, shall be buried with Arius, the Synod of Trent, the older it grows, shall flourish the more, day by day, and year by year. Good God! what variety of nations, what a choice assembly of Bishops of the whole world, what a splendid representation of Kings and Commonwealths, what a quintessence of theologians, what sanctity, what tears, what fears, what flowers of Universities, what tongues, what subtlety, what labour, what infinite reading, what wealth of virtues and of studies filled that august sanctuary! I have myself heard Bishops, eminent and prudent men, – and among them Antony, Archbishop of Prague, by whom I was made Priest, – exulting that they had attended such a school for some years; so that, much as they owed to Kaiser Ferdinand, they considered that he had shown them no more royal and abundant bounty than this of sending them to sit in that Academy of Trent as Legates from Bohemia. The Kaiser understood this, and on their return he welcomed them with the words, “We have kept you at a good school.”

Invited as our adversaries have been under a safe conduct, why have they not hastened thither, publicly to refute those against whom they go on quacking like frogs from their holes? “They broke their promise to Huss and Jerome,” is their reply. Who broke it? “The Fathers of the Council of Constance.” It is false; they never gave any promise. But anyhow, not even Huss would have been punished had not the perfidious and pestilent fellow been brought back from that flight which the Emperor Sigusmund had forbidden him under pain of death; had he not violated the conditions which he had agreed to in writing with the Kaiser and thereby nullified all the value of that safe-conduct. Huss’s hasty wickedness played him false. For, having instigated deeds of savage violence in his native Bohemia, and being bidden thereupon to present himself at Constance, he despised the prerogative of the Council, and sought his safe-conduct of the Kaiser. Caesar signed it; the Christian world, greater than Caesar, cancelled the signature. The heresiarch refused to return to a sound mind, and so perished. As for Jerome of Prague, he came to Constance protected by no one; he was detected and arraigned; he spoke in his own behalf, was treated very kindly, went free whither he would; he was healed, abjured his heresy, relapsed, and was burnt.

Why do they so often drag out one case in a thousand? Let them read their own annals. Martin Luther himself, that abomination of God and men, was put in court at Augsburg before Cardinal Cajetan: there did he not belch out all he could, and then depart in safety, fortified with a letter of Maximilian? Likewise, when he was summoned to Worms, and had against him the Kaiser and most of the Princes of the Empire, was he not safe under the protection of the Kaiser’s word? Lastly, at the Diet of Augsburg, in presence of Charles V., an enemy of heretics, flushed with victory, master of the situation, did not the heads of the Lutherans and Zwinglians, under truce, present their Confessions, so frequently re-edited, and depart in peace? Not otherwise had the letter from Trent provided most ample safe-guards for the adversary; he would not take advantage of them. The fact is, he airs his condition in corners, where he expects to figure as a sage by coming out with three words of Greek: he shrinks from the light, which should place him in the number of men of letters [“lilleratorum” {transcribers note: the Latin is interpolated into the translation here}] and call him to sit in honourable place. Let them obtain for English Catholics such a written promise of impunity, if they love the salvation of souls. We will not raise the instance of Huss: relying on the Sovereign’s word, we will fly to Court.

But, to return to the point whence I digressed, the General Councils are mine, the first, the last, and those between. With them I will fight. Let the adversary look for a javelin hurled with force, which he will never be able to pluck out. Let Satan be overthrown in him, and Christ live.

FIFTH REASON

FATHERS

At Antioch, in which city the noble surname of Christians first became common, there flourished “Doctors,” that is, eminent theologians, and “Prophets,” that is, very celebrated preachers (Acts xiii. 1). Of this sort were the scribes and wise men, learned in the kingdom of God, bringing forth new things and old (Matth. xiii. 52; xxiii. 34), knowing Christ and Moses, whom the Lord promised to His future flock. What a wicked thing it is to scout these teachers, given as they are by way of a mighty boon! The adversary has scouted them. Why? Because their standing means his fall. Having found that out for certain beyond doubt, I have asked for a fight unqualified, not that sham-fight in which the crowds in the street engage, and skirmish with one another, but the earnest and keen struggle in which we join in the arena of yon philosophers: foot to foot, and man close gripping man.

If ever we shall be allowed to turn to the Fathers, the battle is lost and won: they are as thoroughly ours as is Gregory XIII. himself, the loving Father of the children of the Church. To say nothing of isolated passages, which are gathered from the records of the ancients, apt and clear statements in defence of our faith, we hold entire volumes of these Fathers, which professedly illustrate in clear and abundant light the Gospel religion which we defend. Take the twofold “Hierarchy” of the martyr Dionysius, what classes, what sacrifices, what rites does he teach? This fact struck Luther so forcibly that he pronounced the works of this Father to be “such stuff as dreams are made of, and that of the most pernicious kind.” In imitation of his parent, an obscure Frenchman, Caussee, has not hesitated to call this Dionysius, the Apostle of an illustrious nation, “an old dotard.” Ignatius has given grievous offence to the Centuriators of Magdeburg, as also to Calvin, so that these men, the offscouring of mankind, have noted in his works “unsightly blemishes and tasteless prosings.” In their judgment, Irenaeus has brought out “a fanatical production”: Clement, the author of the “Stromata,” has produced “Tares and dregs”: the other Fathers of this age, Apostolic men to be sure, “have left blasphemies and monstrosities to posterity.” In Tertullian they eagerly seize upon what they have learned from us, in common with us, to detest; but they should remember that his book “On Prescriptions,” which has so signally smitten the heretics of our times, was never found fault with. How finely, how, clearly, has Hippolytus, Bishop of Porto pointed out beforehand the power of Antichrist, the times of Luther! They call him, therefore, “a most babyish writer, an owl.” Cyprian, the delight and glory of Africa, that French critic Caussee, and the Centuriators of Magdeburg, have termed “stupid, God-forsaken corrupter of repentance.” What harm has he done? He has written “On Virgins, On the Lapsed, On the Unity of the Church,” such treatises as also such letters to Cornelius, the Roman Pontiff, that, unless credence be withdrawn from this Martyr, Peter Martyr Vermilius and all his associates must count for worse than adulterers and men guilty of sacrilege. And, not to dwell longer on individuals, the Fathers of this age are all condemned “for wonderful corruption of the doctrine of repentance.” How so? Because the austerity of the Canons in vogue at that time is particularly obnoxious to this plausible sect which, better fitted for dining-rooms than for churches, is wont to tickle voluptuous ears and to sew “cushions on every arm” (Ezech. xiii. 18). Take the next age, what offence has that committed?

Chrysostom and those Fathers, forsooth, have “foully obscured the justice of faith.” Gregory Nazianzen whom the ancients called eminently “the Theologian,” is in the judgment of Caussee “a chatter-box, who did not know what he was saying.” Ambrose was “under the spell of an evil demon.” Jerome is “as damnable as the devil, injurious to the Apostle, a blasphemer, a wicked wretch.” To Gregory Massow, “Calvin alone is worth more than a hundred Augustines.” A hundred is a small number: Luther “reckons nothing of having against him a thousand Augustines, a thousand Cyprians, a thousand Churches.” I think I need not carry the matter further. For when men rage against the above-mentioned Fathers, who can wonder at the impertinence of their language against Optatus, Hilary, the two Cyrils, Epiphanius, Basil, Vincent, Fulgentius, Leo, and the Roman Gregory.

However, if we grant any just defence of an unjust cause, I do not deny that the Fathers wherever you light upon them, afford the party of our opponents matter they needs must disagree with, so long as they are consistent with themselves. Men who have appointed fast-days, how must they be minded in regard of Basil, Gregory, Nazianzen, Leo, Chrysostom, who have published telling sermons on Lent and prescribed days of fasting as things already in customary use? Men who have sold their souls for gold, lust, drunkenness and ambitious display, can they be other than most hostile to Basil, Chrysostom, Jerome, Augustine, whose excellent books are in the hands of all, treating of the institute, rule, and virtues of monks?

Men who have carried the human will into captivity, who have abolished Christian funerals, who have burnt the relics of Saints, can they possibly be reconciled to Augustine, who has composed three books on Free Will, one on Care for the Dead, besides sundry sermons and a long chapter in a noble work on the Miracles wrought at the Basilicas and Monuments of the Martyrs? Men who measure faith by their own quips and quirks, must they not be angry with Augustine, of whom there is extant a remarkable Letter against a Manichean, in which he professes himself to assent to Antiquity, to Consent, to Perpetuity of Succession, and to the Church which, alone among so many heresies, claims by prescriptive right the name of Catholic?

Optatus, Bishop of Milevis, refutes the Donatist faction by appeal to Catholic communion: he accuses their wickedness by appeal to the decree of Melchiades: he convicts their heresy by reference to the order of succession of Roman Pontiffs: he lays open their frenzy in their defilement of the Eucharist and of schism: he abhors their sacrilege in their breaking of altars “on which the members of Christ are borne,” and their pollution of chalices “which have held the blood of Christ.” I greatly desire to know what they think of Optatus, whom Augustine mentions as a venerable Catholic Bishop, the equal of Ambrose and of Cyprian; and Fulgentius as a holy and faithful interpreter of Paul, like unto Augustine and Ambrose.

They sing in their churches the Creed of Athanasius. Do they stand by him? That grave anchor who has written an elaborate book in praise of the Egyptian hermit Antony, and who with the Synod of Alexandria suppliantly appealed to the judgment of the Apostolic See, the See of St. Peter. How often does Prudentius in his Hymns pray to the martyrs whose praises he sings! how often at their ashes and bones does he venerate the King of Martyrs! Will they approve his proceeding? Jerome writes against Vigilantius in defence of the relics of the Saints and the honours paid to them; as also against Jovinian for the rank to be allowed to virginity. Will they endure him? Ambrose honoured his patron saints Gervase and Protase with a most glorious solemnity by way of putting the Arians to shame. This action of his was praised by most godly Fathers, and God honoured it with more than one miracle. Are they going to take a kindly view off Ambrose here? Gregory the Great, our Apostle, is most manifestly with us, and therefore is a hateful personage to our adversaries. Calvin, in his rage, says that he was not brought up in the school of the Holy Ghost, seeing that he had called holy images the books of the illiterate.

Time would fail me were I to try to count up the Epistles, Sermons, Homilies, Orations, Opuscula and dissertations of the Fathers, in which they have laboriously, earnestly and with much learning supported the doctrines of us Catholics. As long as these works are for sale at the booksellers’ shops, it will be vain to prohibit the writings of our controversialists; vain to keep watch at the ports and on the sea-coast; vain to search houses, boxes, desks, and book-chests; vain to set up so many threatening notices at the gates. No Harding, nor Sanders, nor Allen, nor Stapleton, nor Bristow, attack these new-fangled fancies with more vigour than do the Fathers whom I have enumerated. As I think over these and the like facts, my courage has grown and my ardour for battle, in which whatever way the adversary stirs, unless he will yield glory to God, he will be in straits. Let him admit the Fathers, he is caught: let him shut them out, he is undone.

When we were young men, the following incident occurred. John Jewell, a foremost champion of the Calvinists of England, with incredible arrogance challenged the Catholics at St. Paul’s, London, invoking hypocritically and calling upon the Fathers, who had flourished within the first six hundred years of Christianity. His wager was taken up by the illustrious men who were then in exile at Louvain, hemmed in though they were with very great difficulties by reason of the iniquity of their times. I venture to assert that that device of Jewell’s, stupid, unconscionable, shameless as it was, qualities which those writers happily brought out, did so much good to our countrymen that scarcely anything in my recollection has turned out to the better advantage of the suffering English Church. At once an edict is hung up on the doors, forbidding the reading or retaining of any of those books, whereas they had come out, or were wrung out, I may almost say, by the outcry that Jewell had raised. The result was that all the persons interested in the matter came to understand that the Fathers were Catholics, that is to say, ours. Nor has Lawrence Humphrey passed over in silence this wound inflicted on him and his party. After high praise of Jewell in other respects, he fixes on him this role of inconsiderateness, that he admitted the reasonings of the Fathers, with whom Humphrey declares, without any beating about the bush, that he has nothing in common nor ever will have.

We also sounded once in familiar discourse Toby Matthews, now a leading preacher, whom we loved for his good accomplishments and the seeds of virtue in him; we asked him to answer honestly whether one who read the Fathers assiduously could belong to that party which he supported. He answered that he could not, if, besides reading, he also believed them.[1] This saying is most true; nor do I think that either he at the present time, or Matthew Hutten, a man of name, who is said to read the Fathers with an assiduity that few equal, or other adversaries who do the like, are otherwise minded.

Thus far I have been able to descend with security into this field of conflict, to wage war with men, who, as though they held a wolf by the ears, are compelled to brand their cause with an everlasting stigma of shame, whether they refuse the Fathers or whether they call for them. In the one case they are preparing to run away, in the other they are caught by the throat.

SIXTH REASON

THE GROUNDS OF ARGUMENT ASSUMED BY THE FATHERS

If ever any men took to heart and made their special care, – as men of our religion have made it and should make it their special care, – to observe the rule, “Search the Scriptures” (John v. 39), the holy Fathers easily come out first and take the palm for the matter of this observance. By their labour and at their expense Bibles have been transcribed and carried among so many nations and tongues by the perils they have run and the tortures they have endured the Sacred Volumes have been snatched from the flames and devastation spread by enemies: by their labours and vigils they have been explained in every detail. Night and day they drank in Holy Writ, from all pulpits they gave forth Holy Writ, with Holy Writ they enriched immense volumes, with most faithful commentaries they unfolded the sense of Holy Writ, with Holy Writ they seasoned alike their abstinence and their meals, finally, occupied about Holy Writ they arrived at decrepit old age.

And if they also frequently have argued from the Authority of Elders, from the Practice of the Church, from the Succession of Pontiffs, from ecumenical Councils, from Apostolic Traditions, from the Blood of Martyrs, from the decrees of Bishops, from Miracles, yet most persistently of all and most willingly do they set forth in close array the testimonies of Holy Writ: these they press home, on these they dwell, to this “armour of the strong” (Cant. iii. 7), for the best of reasons, is the first and the most honourable part assigned by these valiant leaders in their work of forgiving and keeping in repair the City of God against the assaults of the wicked.

Wherefore I do all the more wonder at that haughty and famous objection of the adversary, who, like one looking for water in a running stream, takes exception to the lack of Scripture texts in writings crowded with Scripture texts. He says he will agree with the Fathers so long as they keep close to Holy Scripture. Does he mean what he says? I will see then that there come forth, armed and begirt with Christ, with Prophets and Apostles, and with all array of Biblical erudition, those celebrated authors, those ancient Fathers, those holy men, Dionyius, Cyprian, Athanasius, Basil, Nazianzen, Ambrose, Jerome, Chrysostom, Augustine, and the Latin Gregory. Let that faith reign in England, Oh that it may reign! which these Fathers, dear lovers of the Scriptures, build up out of the Scriptures. The texts that they bring, we will bring: the texts they confer, we will confer: what they infer, we will infer. Are you agreed? Out with it and say so, please. Not bit of it, he says, unless they expound rightly. What is this “rightly”? At your discretion. Are you not ashamed of the vicious circle?

Hopeful as I am that in flourishing Universities there will be gathered together a good number, who will be no dull spectators, but acute judges of these controversies and who will weigh for what they are worth the frivolous answers of our adversaries, I will gladly await this meeting-day, as one minded to lead forth against wooded hillocks [cf. Cicero “in Catilinam” ii. 11], covered with unarmed tramps, the nobility and strength of the Church of Christ.

SEVENTH REASON

HISTORY

Ancient History unveils the primitive face of the Church. To this I appeal. Certainly, the more ancient historians, whom our adversaries also habitually, consult, are enumerated pretty well as follows: Eusebius, Damasus, Jerome, Rufinus, Orosius, Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret Cassiodorus, Gregory of Tours, Usuard, Regino, Marianus, Sigebert, Zonaras, Cedrinus, Nicephorus. What have they to tell? The praises of our religion, its progress, vicissitudes, enemies. Nay, and this is a point I would have you observe diligently, they who in deadly hatred dissent from us, – Melancthon, Pantaleon, Funck, the Centuriators of Magdeburg, – on applying themselves to write either the chronology or the history of the Church, if they did not get together the exploits of our heroes, and heap up the accounts of the frauds and crimes of the enemies of our Church, would pass by fifteen hundred years with no story to tell.

Along with the above-mentioned consider the local historians, who have searched with laborious curiosity into the transactions of some one particular nation. These men, wishing by all means to enrich and adorn the Sparta which they had gotten for their own, and to that effect not passing over in silence even such things as banquets of unusual splendour, or sleeved tunics, or hilts of daggers, or gilt spurs, and other such minutiae having any smack of revelry about them, surely, if they had heard of any change in religion, or any falling off from the standard of early ages, would have related it, many of them; or, if not many, at least several; if not several, some one anyhow. Not one, well-disposed or ill-disposed towards us, has related anything of the sort, or even dropped the slightest hint of the same.

For example. Our adversaries grant us, – they cannot do otherwise, – that the Roman Church was at one time holy, Catholic, Apostolic, at the time when it deserved these eulogiums from St. Paul: “Your faith is spoken of in the whole world. Without ceasing I make a commemoration of you. I know that when I come to you, I shall come in the abundance of the blessing of Christ. All the Churches of Christ salute you. Your obedience is published in every place” (Rom. i. 8, 9; xv. 29; xvi. 17, 19): at the time when Paul, being kept there in free custody, was spreading the gospel (Acts xxviii. 31) : at the time when Peter once in that city was ruling “the Church gathered at Babylon” (1 Peter v. 13): at the time when that Clement, so singularly praised by the Apostle (Phil. iv. 3) was governing the Church: at the time when the pagan Caesars, Nero, Domitian, Trajan, Antoninus, were butchering the Roman Pontiffs: also at the time when, as even Calvin bears witness, Damasus, Siricius, Anastasius and Innocent guided the Apostolic bark. For at this epoch he generously allows that men, at Rome particularly, had so far not swerved from Gospel teaching.

When then did Rome lose this faith so highly celebrated? When did she cease to be what she was before? At what time, under what Pontiff, by what way, by what compulsion, by what increments, did a foreign religion come to pervade city and world? What outcries, what disturbances, what lamentations did it provoke? Were all mankind all over the rest of the world lulled to sleep, while Rome, Rome I say, was forging new Sacraments, a new Sacrifice, new religious dogma? Has there been found no historian, neither Greek nor Latin, neither far nor near, to fling out in his chronicles even an obscure hint of so remarkable a proceeding?

Therefore this much is clear, that the articles of our belief are what History, manifold and various, History the messenger of antiquity, and life of memory, utters and repeats in abundance; while no narrative penned in human times records that the doctrines foisted in by our opponents ever had any footing in the Church. It is clear, I say, that the historians are mine, and that the adversary’s raids upon history are utterly without point. No impression can they make unless the assertion be first received, that all Christians of all ages had lapsed into gross infidelity and gone down to the abyss of hell, until such time as Luther entered into an unblessed union with Catherine Bora.

EIGHTH REASON

PARADOXES

For myself, most excellent Sirs, when, choosing out of many heresies, I think over in my mind certain portentous errors of self-opinionated men, errors that it will be incumbent on me to refute, I should condemn myself of want of spirit and discernment if in this trial of strength I were to be afraid of any man’s ability or powers. Let him be able, let him be eloquent, let him be a practised disputant, let him be a devourer of all books, still his thought must dry up and his utterance fail him when he shall have to maintain such impossible positions as these. For we shall dispute, if perchance they will allow us, on God, on Christ, on Man, on Sin, on Justice, on Sacraments, on Morals. I shall see whether they will dare to speak out what they think, and what under the constraint of their situation they publish in their miserable writings. I will take care that they know these maxims of their teachers:

OF GOD. – “God is the author and cause of evil, willing it, suggesting it, effecting it, commanding it, working it out, and guiding the guilty counsels of the wicked to this end. As the call of Paul, so the adultery of David, and the wickedness of the traitor Judas, was God’s own work” (Calvin, “Institut”. i. 18; ii. 4; iii. 23, 24). This monstrous doctrine, of which Philip Melanchthon was for once ashamed, Luther however, of whom Philip had learned it, extols as an oracle from heaven with wonderful praises, and on that score puts his foster-child all but on an equality, with the Apostle Paul (Luther, “De servo arbitrio”). I will also enquire what was in Luther’s mind, whom the English Calvinists pronounce to be “a man given of God for the enlightenment of the world,” when he wished to take this versicle out of the Church’s prayers, “Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.”

OF CHRIST. – I will proceed to the person of Christ. I will ask what these words, “Christ the Son of God, God of God,” mean to Calvin, who says, “God of Himself” (“Instit.” i. 13); or to Beza, who says, “He is not begotten of the essence of the Father” (Beza in Josue, nn. 23, 24). Again. Let there be set up two hypostate unions in Christ, one of His soul with His flesh, the other of His Divinity with His Humanity (Beza, “Contra Schmidel”). The passage in John x. 30, “I and the Father are one,” does not show Christ to be God, consubstantial with God the Father (Calvin on John x.), the fact is, says Luther, “my soul hates this word, homousion.” Go on. Christ was not perfect in grace from His infancy, but grew in gifts of the soul like other men, and by experience daily became wiser, so that as a little child He laboured under ignorance (Melanchthon on the gospel for first Sunday after Epiphany). Which is as much as to say that He was defiled with the stain and vice of original sin. But observe still more direful utterances. When Christ, praying in the Garden, was streaming with a sweat of water and blood, He shuddered under a sense of eternal damnation, He uttered an irrational cry, an unspiritual cry, a sudden cry prompted by the force of His distress, which He quickly checked as not sufficiently premeditated (Marlorati in Matth. xxvi.; Calvin “in Harm. Evangel.”). Is there anything further? Attend. When Christ Crucified exclaimed, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me,” He was on fire with the flames of hell, He uttered a cry of despair, He felt exactly as if nothing were before Him but to perish in everlasting death (Calvin “in Harm. Evangel.”).

To this also let them add something, if they can. Christ, they say, descended into hell, that is, when dead, He tasted hell not otherwise than do the damned souls, except that He was destined to be restored to Himself: for since by His mere bodily death He would have profited us nothing, He needed in soul also to struggle with everlasting death, and in this way to pay the debt of our crime and our punishment. And lest any one might haply suspect that this theory had stolen upon Calvin unawares, the same Calvin calls “all of you who have repelled this doctrine, full as it is of comfort, God-forsaken boobies” (Institut. ii. 16). Times, times, what a monster you have reared! That delicate and royal Blood, which ran in a flood from the lacerated and torn Body of the innocent Lamb, one little drop of which Blood, for the dignity of the Victim, might have redeemed a thousand worlds, availed the human race nothing, unless “the mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (I Tim. ii. 5) had borne also “the second death” (Apoc. xx. 6), the death of the soul, the death to grace, that accompaniment only of sin and damnable blasphemy! In comparison with this insanity, Bucer, impudent fellow that he is, will appear modest, for he (on Matth. xxvi.), by an explanation very preposterous, or rather, an inept and stupid tautology, takes “hell” in the creed to mean the tomb.

Of the Anglican sectaries, some are wont to adhere to their idol, Calvin, others to their great master, Bucer; some also murmur in an undertone against this article, wishing that it may be quietly removed altogether from the Creed, that it may give no more trouble. Nay, this was actually tried in a meeting at London, as I remember being told by one who was present, Richard Cheyne, a miserable old man, who was badly mauled by robbers outside, and, for all that, never entered his father’s house.[2]

OF THE MAN. – And thus far of Christ. What of Man? The image of God is utterly blotted out in man, not the slightest spark of good is left: his whole nature in all the parts of his soul is so thoroughly overturned that, even after he is born again and sanctified in baptism, there is nothing whatever within him but mere corruption and contagion. What does this lead up to? That they who mean to seize glory by faith alone may wallow in the filth of every turpitude, may accuse nature, despair of virtue, and discharge themselves of the commandments (Calvin, “Instit.” ii. 3).

OF SIN. – To this, Illyricus, the standard-bearer of the Magdeburg company, has added his own monstrous teaching about original sin, which he makes out to be the innermost substance of souls, whom, since Adam’s fall, the devil himself engenders and transforms into himself. This also is a received maxim in this scum of evil doctrine, that all sins are equal, yet with this qualification (not to revive the Stoics), “if sins are weighed in the judgment of God.” As if God, the most equitable judge, were to add to our burden rather than lighten it; and, for all His justice, were to exaggerate and make it what it is not in itself. By this estimation, as heavy an offence would be committed against God, judging in all severity, by the innkeeper who has killed a barn-door cock, when he should not have done, as by that infamous assassin who, his head full of Beza, stealthily slew by the shot of a musket the French hero, the Duke of Guise, a Prince of admirable virtue, than which crime our world has seen in our age nothing more deadly, nothing more lamentable.

OF GRACE. – But perchance they who are so severe in the matter of sin philosophise magnificently on divine grace, as able to bring succour and remedy to this evil. Fine indeed is the function which they assign to grace, which their ranting preachers say is neither infused into our hearts, nor strong enough to resist sin, but lies wholly outside of us, and consists in the mere favour of God, – a favour which does not amend the wicked, nor cleanse, nor illuminate, nor enrich them, but, leaving still the old stinking ordure of their sin, dissembles it by God’s connivance, that it be not counted unsightly and hateful. And with this their invention they are so delighted that, with them, even Christ is not otherwise called “full of grace and truth” than inasmuch as God the Father has borne wonderful favour to Him (Bucer on John i: Brent hom. 12 on John).

OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. – What sort of thing then is righteousness? A relation. It is not made up of faith, hope and charity, vesting the soul in their splendour; it is only a hiding away of guilt, such that, whoever has seized upon this righteousness by faith alone, he is as sure of salvation as though he were already enjoying the unending joy of heaven. Well, let this dream pass: but how can one be sure of future perseverance, in the absence of which a man’s exit would be most miserable, though for a time he had observed righteousness purely and piously? Nay, says Calvin (“Instit.” iii. 2), unless this your faith foretells you your perseverance assuredly, without possibility of hallucination, it must be cast aside as vain and feeble. I recognise the disciple of Luther. A Christian, said Luther (“De captivitate Babylonis”), cannot lose his salvation, even if he wanted, except by refusing to believe.

OF THE SACRAMENTS. – I hasten to pass on to the Sacraments. None, none, not two, not one, O holy Christ, have they left. Their bread is poison; and as for their baptism, though it is still true baptism, nevertheless in their judgment it is nothing, it is not a wave of salvation, it is not a channel of grace, it does not apply to us the merits of Christ, it is a mere token of salvation (Calvin, “Instit.” iv. 15). Thus they have made no more of the baptism of Christ, so far as the nature of the thing goes, than of the ceremony of John. If you have it, it is well; if you go without it, there is no loss suffered; believe, you are saved, before you are washed. What then of infants, who, unless they are aided by the virtue of the Sacrament, poor little things, gain nothing by any faith of their own? Rather than allow anything to the Sacrament of baptism, say the Magdeburg Centuriators (Cent. v. 4.), let us grant that there is faith in the infants themselves, enough to save them; and that the said babies are aware of certain secret stirrings of this faith, albeit they are not yet aware whether they are alive or not. A hard nut to crack! If this is so very hard, listen to Luther’s remedy. It is better, he says (“Advers. Cochl.”), to omit the baptism; since, unless the infant believes, to no purpose is it washed. This is what they say, doubtful in mind what absolutely to affirm. Therefore let Balthasar Pacimontanus step in to sort the votes. This father of the Anabaptists, unable to assign to infants any stirring of faith, approved Luther’s suggestion; and, casting infant baptism out of the churches, resolved to wash at the sacred font none who was not grown up. For the rest of the Sacraments, though that many headed beast utters many insults, yet, seeing that they are now of daily occurrence, and our ears have grown callous to them, I here pass them over.

OF MORALITY. – There remain the sayings of the heretics concerning life and morals, the noxious goblets which Luther has vomited on his pages, that out of the filthy hovel of his one breast he might breathe pestilence upon his readers. Listen patiently, and blush, and pardon me the recital. If the wife will not, or cannot, let the handmaid come (“Serm. de matrimon.”); seeing that commerce with a wife is as necessary to every man as food, drink, and sleep. Matrimony is much more excellent than virginity. Christ and Paul dissuaded men from virginity (“Liber de vot. evangel.”). But perhaps these doctrines are peculiar to Luther. They are not. They have been lately defended by my friend Chark but miserably and timidly. Do you wish to hear any more? Certainly. The more wicked you, are, he says, the nearer you are to grace (“Serm. de. pisc. Petri”). All good actions are sins, in God’s judgment, mortal sins; in God’s mercy, venial. No one thinks evil of his own will. The Ten Commandments are nothing to Christians. God cares nought at all about our works. They alone rightly partake of the Lord’s Supper, who bury consciences sad, afflicted, troubled, confused, erring. Sins are to be confessed, but to anyone you like; and if he absolves you even in joke, provided you believe, you are absolved. To read the Hours of the Divine Office is not the function of priests, but of laymen. Christians are free from the enactments of men (Luther, “De servo arbitrio, De captivilate Babylon”).

I think I have stirred up this puddle sufficiently. I now finish. Nor must you think me unfair for having turned my argument against Lutherans and Zwinglians indiscriminately. For, remembering their common parentage, they wish to be brothers and friends to one another; and they take it as a grave affront, whenever any distinction is drawn between them in any point but one. I am not of consequence enough to claim for myself so much as an undistinguished place among the select theologians who at this day have declared war on heresies: but this I know, that, puny as I am, I run no risk while, supported by the grace of Christ, I shall do battle, with the aid of heaven and earth, against such fabrications as these, so odious, so tasteless, so stupid.

NINTH REASON

SOPHISM

It is a shrewd saying that a one-eyed man may be king among the blind. With uneducated people a mock-proof has force which a school of philosophers dismisses with scorn. Many are the offences of the adversary under this head; but his case is made out by four fallacies chiefly, fallacies which I would rather unravel in the University than in a popular audience.

The first vice is [Greek: skiamachia], with mighty effort hammering at breezes and shadows. In this way: against such as have sworn to celibacy and vowed chastity, because, while marriage is good, virginity is better (1 Cor. vii.), Scripture texts are brought up speaking honourably of marriage. Whom do they hit? Against the merit of a Christian man, a merit dyed in the Blood of Christ, otherwise null, testimonies are alleged whereby we are bidden to put our trust neither in nature nor in the law, but in the Blood of Christ. Whom do they refute? Against those who worship Saints, as Christ’s servants, especially acceptable to Him, whole pages are quoted, forbidding the worship of many gods? Where are these many gods? By such arguments, which I find in endless quantity in the writings of heretics, they cannot hurt us, they may bore you.

Another vice is [Greek: logomachia], which leaves the sense, and wrangles loquaciously over the word. “Find me Mass or Purgatory in the Scriptures,” they say. What then? Trinity, Consubstantial, Person, are they nowhere in the Bible, because these words are not found? Allied to this fault is the catching at letters, when, to the neglect of usage and the mind of the speakers, war is waged on the letters of the alphabet. For instance, thus they say: “Presbyter to the Greeks means nothing else than elder; Sacrament, any mystery”. On this, as on all other points, St. Thomas shrewdly observes: “In words, we must look not whence they are derived, but to what meaning they are put.”

The third vice is [Greek: homonumia], which has a very wide range. For example: “What is the meaning of an Order of Priests, when John has called us all priests?” (Apoc. v. 10). He has also added this: “we shall reign upon the earth”. What then is the use of Kings? Again: “the Prophet” (Isaias lviii.) “cries up a spiritual fast, that is, abstinence from inveterate crimes. Farewell then to any discernment of meats and prescription of days.” Indeed? Mad therefore were Moses, David, Elias, the Baptist, the Apostles, who terminated their fasts in two days, three days, or in so many weeks, which fasting, being from sin, ought to have been perpetual. You have already seen what manner of argument this is. I hasten on.

Added to the above is a fourth vice, “Vicious Circle,” in this way. Give me the notes, I say, of the Church. “The word of God and undefiled Sacraments”. Are these with you? “Who can doubt it?” I do, I deny it utterly. “Consult the word of God.” I have consulted it, and I favour you less than before. “Ah, but it is plain.” Prove it to me. “Because we do not depart a nail’s breadth from the word of God.” Where is your persecution? Will you always go on taking for an argument the very point that is called in question? How often have I insisted on this already? Do wake up: do you want torches applied to you? I say that your exposition of the word of God is perverse and mistaken: I have fifteen centuries to bear me witness stand by an opinion, not mine, nor yours, but that of all these ages. “I will stand by the sentence of the word of God: the Spirit breatheth where it will” (John iii. 8). There he is at it again; what circumvolutions, what wheels he is making! This trifler, this arch-contriver of words and sophisms, I know not to whom he can be formidable: tiresome he possibly will be. His tiresomeness will find its corrective in your sagacity: all that was formidable about him facts have taken away.

TENTH REASON

ALL MANNER OF WITNESS

“This shall be to you a straight way, so that fools shall not go astray in it” (Isaias xxxv. 8).

Who is there, however small and lost in the crowd of illiterates, that, with a desire of salvation and some little attention, cannot see, cannot keep to the path of the Church, so admirably smoothed out, eschewing brambles and rocks and pathless wastes! For, as Isaias prophesies, this path shall be plain even to the uneducated; most plain therefore, if you choose, to you.

COELITES. – Let us put before our eyes the theatre of the universe: let us wander everywhere: all things supply us with an argument. Let us go to heaven: let us contemplate roses and lilies, Saints empurpled with martyrdom or white with innocence: Roman Pontiffs, I say, three and thirty in a continuous line put to death: Pastors all the world over, who have pledged their blood for the name of Christ: Flocks of faithful, who have followed in the footsteps of their Pastors: all the Saints of heaven, who as shining lights in purity and holiness have gone before the crowd of mankind. You will find that these were ours when they lived on earth, ours when they passed away from this world. To cull a few instances, ours was that Ignatius, who in church matters put no one not even the Emperor, on a level with the Bishop; who committed to writing, that they might not be lost, certain Apostolic traditions of which he himself had been witness. Ours was that anchoret Telesphorus, who ordered the more strict observance of the fast of Lent established by the Apostles. Ours was Irenaeus, who declared the Apostolic faith by the Roman succession and chair (lib. iii. cap. 3). Ours was Pope Victor, who by an edict brought to order the whole of Asia; and though this proceeding seemed to some minds, and even to that holy man Irenaeus, somewhat harsh, yet no one made light of it as coming from a foreign power. Ours was Polycarp, who went to Rome on the question of Easter, whose burnt relics Smyrna gathered, and honoured her Bishop with an anniversary feast and appointed ceremony. Ours were Cornelius and Cyprian, a golden pair of Martyrs, both great Bishops, but greater he, the Roman, who had rescinded the African error; while the latter was ennobled by the obedience which he paid to the elder, his very dear friend. Ours was Sixtus, to whom, as he offered solemn sacrifice at the altar, seven men of the clergy ministered. Ours was his Archdeacon Lawrence, whom the adversaries cast out of their calendar, to whom, twelve hundred years ago, the Consular man Prudentius thus prayed:

What is the power entrusted thee,
And how great function is given thee,
The joyful thanks of Roman citizens prove,
To whom thou grantest their petitions.
Among them, O glory of Christ,
Hear also a rustic poet,
Confessing the crimes of his heart
And publishing his doings.
Hear bountifully the supplication
Of Christ’s culprit Prudentius.

Ours are those highly-blest maids, Cecily, Agatha, Anastasia, Barbara, Agnes, Lucy, Dorothy, Catherine, who held fast against the violent assault of men and devils the virginity they had resolved upon. Ours was Helen, celebrated for the finding of the Lord’s Cross. Ours was Monica, who in death most piously begged prayers and sacrifices to be offered for her at the altar of Christ. Ours was Paula, who, leaving her City palace and her rich estates, hastened on a long journey a pilgrim to the cave at Bethlehem, to hide herself by the cradle of the Infant Christ. Ours were Paul, Hilarion, Antony, those dear ancient solitaries. Ours was Satyrus, own brother to Ambrose, who, when shipwrecked, jumped into the ocean, carrying about his neck in a napkin the Sacred Host, and full of faith swam to shore (Ambrose, “Orat. fun. de Satyro”).

Ours are the Bishops Martin and Nicholas, exercised in watchings, clad in the military garb of hair cloths, fed with fasts. Ours is Benedict, father of so many monks. I should not run through their thousands in ten years. But neither do I set down those whom I mentioned before among the Doctors of the Church. I am mindful of the brevity imposed upon me. Whoever wills, may seek these further details, not only from the copious histories of the ancients, but even much more from the grave authors who have bequeathed to memory almost one man one Saint. Let the reader report to me his judgment concerning those ancient blessed Christians, to what doctrine they adhered, the Catholic or the Lutheran. I call to witness the throne of God, and that Tribunal at which I shall stand to render reason for these Reasons, of everything I have said and done, that either there is no heaven at all, or heaven belongs to our people. The former position we abhor, we fix therefore upon the latter.

DAMNATI. – Now contrariwise, if you please, let us look into hell. There are burnt with everlasting fire, who? The Jews. On what Church have they turned their backs? On ours. Who again? The heathen. What Church have they most cruelly persecuted? Ours. Who again? The Turks. What temples have they destroyed? Ours. Who once more? Heretics. Against what Church are they in rebellion? Against ours. What Church but ours has opposed itself against all the gates of hell?

IUDAEI. – When, after the driving away of the Hebrews, Christian inhabitants began to multiply at Jerusalem, what a concourse of men there was to the Holy Places, what veneration attached to the City, to the Sepulchre, to the Manger, to the Cross, to all the memorials in which the Church delights as a wife in what has been worn by her husband. Hence arose against us the hatred of the Jews, cruel and implacable. Even now they complain that our ancestors were the ruin of their ancestors. From Simon Magus and the Lutherans they have received no wound.

ETHNICI. – Among the heathen, they were the most violent who, throughout the Roman Empire, for three hundred years, at intervals of time, contrived most painful punishments for Christians. What Christians? The fathers and children of our faith. Learn the language of the tyrant who roasted St. Lawrence on the gridiron:

That this is of your rites
The custom and practice, it has been handed down to memory:
This the discipline of the institution,
That priests pour libations from golden cups.
In silver goblets they say
That the sacred blood smokes;
And that in golden candlestick, at the nightly sacrifices,
There stand fixed waxen candles.
Then is it the chief care of the brethren,
As many-tongued report does testify,
To offer from the sale of estates,
Thousands of pence.
Ancestral property made over
To dishonest auctions,
The disinherited successor groans,
Needy child of holy parents.
These treasures are concealed in secret,
In corners of the churches;
And it is believed the height of piety
To strip your sweet children.
Bring out your treasures,
Which by evil arts of persuasion
You have heaped up and hold,
Which you shut up in darkling cave.
Public utility demands this,
The privy purse demands it, the treasury demands it,
That the soldiers may be paid for their services,
And the commander may benefit thereby.
This is your dogma, then:
Give every man his own.
Now Caesar recognises his own
Image, stamped on the coin.
What you know to be Caesar’s, to Caesar
Give; surely what I ask is just.
If I am not mistaken, your Deity
Coins no money,
Nor when he came did he bring
Golden Jacobuses[3] with him;
But he gave his precepts in words,
Empty in point of pocket.
Fulfil the promise of the words
Which you sell the round world over.
Give up your hard cash willingly,
Be rich in words.
(Prudentius, “Hymn on St. Lawrence”).

Whom does this speaker resemble. Against whom does he rage? What Church is it whose sacred vessels, lamps, and ornaments he is pillaging, whose ritual he overthrows? Whose golden patens and silver chalices, sumptuous votive offerings and rich treasure, does he envy? Why, the man is a Lutheran all over. With what other cloak did our Nimrods[4] cover their brigandage, when they embezzled the money of their Churches and wasted the patrimony of Christ? Take on the contrary Constantine the Great, that scourge of the persecutors of Christ, to what Church did he restore tranquillity? To that Church over which Pope Silvester presided, whom he summoned from his hiding-place on Mount Soracte that by his ministry he might receive our baptism. Under what auspices was he victorious? Under the sign of the cross. Of what mother was he the glorious son? Of Helen. To what Fathers did he attach himself? To the Fathers of Nice. What manner of men were they? Such men as Silvester, Mark, Julius, Athanasius, Nicholas. What seat did he ask for in the Synod? The last. Oh how much more kingly was he on that seat than the Kings who have ambitioned a title not due to them! It would be tedious to go into further details. But from these two [Emperors, Decius and Constantine], the one our deadly enemy, the other our warm friend, it may be left to the reader’s conjecture to fix on points of closest resemblance to the one and to the other in the history of our own times. For as it was our cause that went through its agony under Decius, so our cause it was that came out triumphant under Constantine.[5]

TURCAE. – Let us look at the doings of the Turks. Mahomet and the apostate monk Sergius lie in the deep abyss, howling, laden with their own crimes and with those of their posterity. This portentous and savage monster, the power of the Saracens and the Turks, had it not been clipped and checked by our Military Orders, our Princes and Peoples, so far as Luther was concerned (to whom Solyman the Turk is said to have written a letter of thanks on this account), and so far as the Lutheran Princes were concerned (by whom the progress of the Turks is reckoned matter of joy), – this frantic and man-destroying Fury, I say, by this time would be depopulating and devastating all Europe, overturning altars and signs of the cross as zealously as Calvin himself. Ours therefore they are, our proper foes, seeing that by the industry of our champions it was that their fangs were unfastened from the throats of Christians.

HAERETICI. – Let us look down on heretics, the filth and fans and fuel of hell[6] the first that meets our gaze is Simon Magus. What did he do? He endeavoured to snatch away free will from man: he prated of faith alone (Clen. lib. i. recog.; Iren. l. 1, c. 2). After him, Novatian. Who was he? An Anti-pope, rival to the Roman Pontiff Cornelius, an enemy of the Sacraments, of Penance and Chrism. Then Manes the Persian. He taught that baptism did not confer salvation. After him the Arian Aerius. He condemned prayers for the dead: he confounded priests with bishops, and was surnamed “the atheist” no less than Lucian. There follows Vigilantius, who would not have the Saints prayed to; and Jovinian, who put marriage on a level with virginity; finally, a whole mess of nastiness, Macedonius, Pelagius, Nestorius, Eutyches, the Monothelites, the Iconoclasts, to whom posterity will aggregate Luther and Calvin. What of them? All black crows,[7] born of the same egg, they revolted from the Prelates of our Church, and by, them were rejected and made void.

Let us leave the lower regions and return to earth. Wherever I cast my eyes and turn my thoughts, whether I regard the Patriarchates and the Apostolic Sees, or the Bishops of other lands, or meritorious Princes, Kings, and Emperors, or the origin of Christianity in any nation, or any evidence of antiquity, or light of reason, or beauty of virtue, all things serve and support our faith.

SEDES APOSTOLICA. – I call to witness the Roman Succession, “in which Church,” to speak with Augustine (Epist. 162: “Doctr. Christ”. ii. 8), “the Primacy of the Apostolic Chair has ever flourished”. I call to witness those other Apostolic Sees, to which this name eminently belongs, because they were erected by the Apostles themselves, or by their immediate disciples.

DISIUNCTTISSIMAE TERRAE. – I call to witness the Pastors of the nations, separate in place, but united in our religion: Ignatius and Chrysostom at Antioch; Peter, Alexander, Athanasius, Theophilus, at Alexandria; Macarius and Cyril at Jerusalem; Proclus at Constantinople; Gregory and Basil in Cappadocia; Thaumaturgus in Pontus; at Smyrna Polycarp; Justin at Athens; Dionysius at Corinth; Gregory at Nyssa; Methodius at Tyre; Ephrem in Syria; Cyprian, Optatus, Augustine, in Africa; Epiphanius in Cyprus; Andrew in Crete; Ambrose, Paulinus, Gaudentius, Prosper, Faustus, Vigilius, in Italy; Irenaeus, Martin, Hilary, Eucherius, Gregory, Salvianus, in Gaul; Vincentus, Orosius, Ildephonsus, Leander, Isidore, in Spain; in Britain, Fugatius, Damian, Justus, Mellitus, Bede. Finally, not to appear to be making a vain display of names, whatever works, or fragments of works, are still extant of those who sowed the Gospel seed in distant lands, all exhibit to us one faith, that which we Catholics profess to-day. O Christ, what cause can I allege to Thee why Thou shouldst not banish me from Thine own, if to so many lights of the Church I should have preferred mannikins, dwellers in darkness, few, unlearned, split into sects, and of bad moral character!

PRINCIPES. – I call to witness likewise Princes, Kings, Emperors, and their Commonwealths, whose own piety, and the people of their realms, and their established discipline in war and peace, were altogether founded on this our Catholic doctrine. What Theodosiuses here might I summon from the East, what Charleses from the West, what Edwards from England, what Louises from France, what Hermenegilds from Spain, Henries from Saxony, Wenceslauses from Bohemia, Leopolds from Austria, Stephens from Hungary, Josaphats from India, Dukes and Counts from all the world over, who by example, by arms, by laws, by loving care, by outlay of money, have nourished our Church! For so Isaias foretold: “Kings shall be thy foster-fathers, and queens thy nurses” (Isaias xlix. 23). Listen, Elizabeth, most powerful Queen, for thee this great prophet utters this prophecy, and therein teaches thee thy part. I tell thee: one and the same heaven cannot hold Calvin and the Princes whom I have named. With these Princes then associate thyself, and so make thee worthy of thy ancestors, worthy of thy genius, worthy of thy excellence in letters, worthy of thy praises, worthy of thy fortune. To this effect alone do I labour about thy person, and will labour, whatever shall become of me, for whom these adversaries so often augur the gallows, as though I were an enemy of thy life. Hail, good Cross. There will come, Elizabeth, the day, that day which will show thee clearly which have loved thee, the Society of Jesus or the offspring of Luther.

NATIONES AD CHRISTAM TRADUCTAE. – I proceed. I call to witness all the coasts and regions of the world, to which the Gospel trumpet has sounded since the birth of Christ. Was this a little thing, to close the mouth of idols and carry the kingdom of God to the nations? Of Christ Luther speaks: we Catholics speak of Christ. “Is Christ divided?” (1 Cor. i. 13). By no means. Either we speak of a false Christ or he does. What then? I will say. Let Him be Christ, and belong to them, at whose coming in Dagon broke his neck. Our Christ was pleased to use the services of our men, when He banished from the hearts of so many peoples – Jupiters, Mercuries, Dianas, Phoebades, and that black night and sad Erebus of ages. There is no leisure to search afar off, let us examine only neighbouring and domestic history. The Irish imbibed from Patrick, the Scots from Palladius, the English from Augustine, men consecrated at Rome, sent from Rome, venerating Rome, either no faith at all or assuredly our faith, the Catholic faith. The case is clear. I hurry on.

CUMULUS TESTIUM. – Witness Universities, witness tables of laws, witness the domestic habits of men, witness the election and inauguration of Emperors, witness the coronation rites and anointing of Kings, witness the Orders of Knighthood and their very mantles, witness windows, witness coins, witness city gates and city houses, witness the labours and life of our ancestors, witness all things great and small, that no religion in the world but ours ever took deep root there.

These considerations being at hand to me, and so affecting me as I thought them over that it seemed the part of insolence, nay of insanity, to renounce all this Christian company and consort with the most abandoned of men, I confess, I felt animated and fired to the conflict, a conflict wherein I can never be worsted until it comes to the Saints being hurled from heaven and the proud Lucifer recovering heaven. Therefore let Chark, who reviles me so outrageously, be in better conceit with me, if I have preferred to trust this poor sinful soul of mine, which Christ has bought so dearly, rather to a safe way, a sure way, a royal road, than to Calvin’s rocks or woodland thickets, there to hang caught in uncertainty.

CONCLUSION

You have from me, Gentlemen of the University, this little present, put together by the labour of such leisure as I could snatch on the road. My purpose was to clear myself in your judgment of the charge of arrogance, and to show just cause for my confidence, and meanwhile, until such time as along with me you are invited by the adversaries to the disputations in the Schools, to give you a sort of foretaste of what is to come there. If you think it a just, safe, and virtuous choice for Luther or Calvin to be taken for the Canon of Scripture, the Mind of the Holy Ghost, the Standard of the Church, the Pedagogue of Councils and Fathers, in short, the God of all witnesses and ages, I have nothing to hope of your reading or hearing me. But if you are such as I have pictured you in my mind, philosophers, keen-sighted, lovers of the truth, of simplicity, of modesty, enemies of temerity, of trifles and sophisms, you will easily see daylight in the open air, seeing that you already see the peep of day through a narrow chink. I will say freely what my love of you, and your danger, and the importance of the matter requires. The devil is not unaware that you will see this light of day, if ever you raise your eyes to it. For what a piece of stupidity it would be to prefer Hanmers and Charks to Christian antiquity! But there are certain Lutheran enticements whereby the devil extends his kingdom, delicate snares whereby that hooker of men has caught with his baits already many of your rank and station. What are they! Gold, glory, pleasures, lusts. Despise them. What are they but bowels of earth, high-sounding air, a banquet of worms, fair dunghills. Scorn them. Christ is rich, who will maintain you: He is a King, who will provide you: He is a sumptuous entertainer, who will feast you; He is beautiful, who will give in abundance all that can make you happy. Enrol yourselves in His service, that with Him you may gain triumphs, and show yourselves men truly most learned, truly most illustrious. Farewell. At Cosmopolis, City of all the world, 1581.”

Love,
Matthew

Dec 1 – St Edmund Campion, SJ (1540-1581) – Come Rack! Come Rope!

campion (1)

The name Edmund is a very special Christian name for the McCormicks.  McCormick/Diamond men often have the name Edmund as either a first or middle name.

Shortly after dawn on July 18, 1581, the cry went out: “I have found the traitors!” With a crowbar the false wall at the head of the stairs was torn away, revealing the huddled figures of Edmund Campion and two companions, three priests lately returned to their native England to minister to those resisting the oppression from the new Anglican Church. Their discovery set them upon the path to martyrdom.

Edmund Campion gave up a promising career at Oxford and the favor, praise, and adulation of the Queen of England and her court to become a Catholic priest and to minister to Catholics in desperate need of spiritual nourishment and of the sacraments but stranded in a hostile, deadly, and Protestant England.

Edmund Campion was born on January 25, 1540 into an England of religious and social upheaval. His Catholic parents later became Protestant.  Protestantism had usurped the Catholic Church as the spiritual authority; the dissolution of monasteries and the suppression of Catholic beliefs and believers intensified as land-hungry nobles and men of power continued, in the name of the young, sickly Edward VI, the transformation begun by Henry VIII.

Campion was 13 and the most promising scholar at Christ’s Hospital school in London when he was chosen to read an address to the Catholic Mary Tudor, in Latin, upon her arrival in London as queen in 1553. Campion received a scholarship to Oxford at age 15, and, by the time Elizabeth rose to power (“restoring” Protestantism as the national religion) upon Mary’s death in 1558, he was already a junior fellow.

At Oxford, Campion’s erudition, charisma, and charm gained him notoriety; his students even imitated his mannerisms and style of dress.  They called themselves “Campionites”.  Queen Elizabeth visited in 1566 and for her entertainment was treated to academic displays. Campion, the star of the show, single-handedly debated four other scholars and so impressed the queen that she promised the patronage of her advisor (and one of the principal architects of the Reformation in England) William Cecil, who referred to Campion as the “diamond of England.”  So taken was the queen with the young Campion, and Edmund’s vanity fed by the adulation of the Queen and her court, he took the Oath of Supremacy and became an Anglican deacon.  There were even whispers possibly of the Archbishopric of Canterbury in his future.

It was the hope of the crown that Campion would become a defender of the new faith which, though favored by the temporal power, lacked learned apologists. Yet even as he was ordained to the Anglican diaconate, he was being swayed toward Rome, influenced in great part by older friends with Catholic sympathies.

At the persuasion of Richard Cheyney, Bishop of Gloucester, although holding Catholic doctrines, he received deacon’s orders in the Anglican Church. Inwardly “he took a remorse of conscience and detestation of mind.” Rumors of his opinions began to spread and he left Oxford in 1569 and went to Ireland to take part in a proposed establishment of the University of Dublin.

Campion was appointed tutor to Richard Stanihurst, son of the Speaker of the Irish parliament, and attended the first session of the House of Commons, which included the prorogation. Campion was transferred by Stanihurst’s arrangement to the house of Christopher Barnewall at Turvey in the Pale, which he acknowledged saved him from arrest and torture by the Protestant party in Dublin.

For some three months he eluded his pursuers, going by the name “Mr Patrick” and occupying himself by writing a history of Ireland.  At this point Campion was at the summit of his powers. He could have risen to the highest levels of fame had he stayed his course. But this was not to be. By the time Campion left Ireland, he knew he could not remain a Protestant.

Campion’s Catholic leanings were well-publicized, and he found the atmosphere hostile upon his return to England in 1571. He went abroad to Douay in France, where he was reconciled with the Church and decided to enter the Society of Jesus. He made a pilgrimage to Rome with the intention of becoming a Jesuit.  He was assigned to the Austrian Province and to Prague, where he lived and taught for six years and in 1578 was ordained a Jesuit priest.  He might well have expected to remain there the rest of his life.

In 1580 he was called by superiors to join fellow Jesuits Fr. Robert Parsons & Br. Ralph Emerson in leading a mission to England. He accepted the assignment joyfully, but everyone was aware of the dangers. The night before his departure from Prague, one of the Jesuit fathers wrote over Campion’s door, “P. Edmundus Campianus, Martyr.”  That sounds so much like the living Jesuits I know and love today.  Jesuit sense of humor.  Always a bit dark, sardonic, if you’ve never experienced it.  🙂

English spies in Flanders learned of their impending departure and informed the English ports of entry, who awaited their arrival. Campion crossed the English Channel as “Mr. Edmunds,” a jewel dealer. His mission was nearly a short one: At Dover a search was underway for Gabriel Allen, another English Catholic expatriate who was rumored to be returning to England to visit family. Apparently Allen’s description fit Campion also, and he was detained by the mayor of Dover, who planned to send Campion to London. Inexplicably, while waiting for horses for the journey, the mayor changed his mind, and sent “Mr. Edmunds” on his way.

Upon reaching London, Campion composed his “Challenge to the Privy Council,” a statement of his mission and an invitation to engage in theological debate. Copies spread quickly, and several replies to the “Challenge” were published by Protestant writers, who attached to it a derogatory title, “Campion’s Brag,” by which it is best known today.

Read here:  http://www.ewtn.com/library/MARY/CAMBRAG.HTM

The power and sincerity of the “Brag” is accompanied by a degree of naivete: Campion’s statement of purpose was of no value during his later trial for treason, and the challenge to debate, repeated later in his apologetic work “Decem Rationes/Ten Reasons”, was as much an invitation to capture. And his capture seemed almost inevitable: Elizabeth had spies everywhere searching for priests, the most sought after of whom being her former “diamond of England.”  Decem Rationes gave arguments to prove the truth of Catholicism and the falsity of Protestantism. It was printed by the end of June 1581. Many of the 400 copies printed were left on the benches of Oxford’s University Church of St. Mary. Campion was still well-enough known that the book was eagerly read.

Campion and his companions traveled stealthily through the English countryside in the early summer of 1581, relying on old, landed Catholic families as hosts. They said Mass, heard confession, performed baptisms and marriages, and preached words of encouragement to a people who represented the last generation to confess the faith of a Catholic England.

There were close calls. Many homes had hiding places for priests—some even had secret chapels and confessionals—and the Jesuits had to rely on these more than once. Campion took extraordinary risks, never able to turn down a request to preach or administer the sacraments, and more than once he escaped detection while in a public setting.

His fortune changed while visiting the home of Francis Yate in Lyford Grange, which was west of London. Yate was a Catholic imprisoned for his faith who had repeatedly asked for one of the Jesuit fathers to tend to the spiritual needs of his household. Though it was out of the way and the queen’s searchers were reportedly in hot pursuit, Campion was unable to resist the request.

He traveled to Lyford, heard confessions, preached well into the night, and departed without difficulty after saying Mass at dawn. Some nuns visiting the home shortly thereafter were upset to hear they had just missed Campion, and so riders were dispatched to persuade him to return, which he did.

Word of his return reached George Eliot, born and regarded as Catholic but in fact a turncoat in the pay of the queen; he had a general commission to hunt down and arrest priests. Eliot arrived at Lyford with David Jenkins, another searcher, and attended a Mass. He was greatly outnumbered by the Catholics, and, fearing resistance, made no move to arrest Campion. He departed abruptly to fetch the local magistrate and a small militia and returned to the Yate property during dinner. News of the approaching party reached the house, and Campion and his two priestly companions were safely squirreled away in a narrow cell prepared especially for that purpose, with food and drink for three days.

Later Eliot and Jenkins both claimed to have discovered the priests, offering the same story: A strip of light breaking through a gap in the wall leading to the hiding place was the giveaway—both men took credit for noticing it, and each reported being the one to break through the wall. No doubt each sought the credit for capturing the infamous Campion, for no priest was more beloved by the Catholics nor more despised by the crown.

Campion was taken to the Tower and tortured. Placed in a cell so small he could neither stand upright nor lie down.  After three days there he was brought to Leicester house, where he met Queen Elizabeth for a second time.  She offered him the opportunity to renounce his Catholic faith and become a Protestant minister, with the offer of great advancement. Edmund refused and was returned to his cell; five days later he was tortured on the rack. Several times he was forced to engage in debates, without benefit of notes or references and still weak and disoriented from his rackings and beatings. He acquitted himself admirably, all things considered: a testament to his unparalleled rhetorical skills.

The Crown intended to execute him.  But, they needed a stronger charge than the fact that he was a Catholic priest.  His trial was a farce. Witnesses were bribed, false evidence produced; in truth, the outcome had been determined since his arrival. Campion was eloquent and persuasive to the last, dominating the entire procedure with the force of his logic and his knowledge of the Scripture and law, but in vain.

On Nov. 14, the priests were led to Westminster Hall where charges were raised against them that they had formed a conspiracy against the life of the queen, had exhorted foreigners to invade the country and had entered England with the intent of fomenting rebellion to support the invaders.

At his trial six days later, Campion was asked to raise his right hand and take an oath; he was unable to do so because of recent torture, so another one of the priests had to lift his arm for him.  “I protest before God and His holy Angels,before Heaven and earth, before the world and I this bar whereat I stand, which is but a small resemblance of the terrible judgment of the next life, that I am not guilty of any part of the treason contained in the indictment, or of any other treason whatever.” Speaking later to the jury, Campion said “Is it possible,to find twelve men so wicked and void of all conscience in this city or land that will find us guilty together of this one crime, divers of us never meeting or knowing one the other before our bringing to this bar?” But, they were found guilty of high treason and condemned to be hanged, drawn and quartered. The priests joined in singing the Te Deum when they heard the verdict.

His address to the court upon sentencing invoked the Catholic England for which he had fought, the Catholic England which was about to die: “In condemning us, you condemn all your own ancestors—all the ancient priests, bishops and kings—all that was once the glory of England — the island of saints, and the most devoted child of the See of Peter.”

Campion remained in chains for another 11 days, and then was dragged through the muddy streets of London to Tyburn.  As Campion forgave those who had condemned him, the cart he was standing on was driven from under him and he was left hanging.  The executioner then cut him down and tore out his heart and intestines before cutting his body into pieces.

On December 1,1581 the prophecy hanging over his door in Prague was fulfilled: Campion was hanged, drawn, and quartered. The poet Henry Walpole, later St Henry Walpole, SJ, was there, and during the quartering some blood from Campion’s entrails splashed on his coat. Walpole was profoundly changed. He went overseas, took orders, and 13 years later met his own martyrdom on English soil.

A letter of St Edmund Campion, SJ, in which, after torture, he assured Catholics that he had revealed “no things of secret, nor would he, come rack, come rope.”

The actual ropes used in his execution are now kept in glass display tubes at Stonyhurst College in Lancashire; each year they are placed on the altar of St Peter’s Church for Mass to celebrate Campion’s feast day—which is always a holiday for the school.

File:Campion.jpg
-a 1631 print

CampionPainting

“I have made a free oblation of myself
to your Divine Majesty,
both of life and of death,
and I hope that
You will give me
grace and force to perform.
This is all I desire. Amen.”
-St. Edmund Campion, SJ

Love,
Matthew

Mar 22 – St Nicholas Owen, SJ, (d. 1606) – Religious, Martyr, Artist, Builder of Hiding Places for Priests

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Nicholas, familiarly known as “Little John,” was small in stature but big in the esteem of his fellow Jesuits.  Born at Oxford, this humble artisan saved the lives of many priests and laypersons in England during the penal times (1559-1829), when a series of statutes punished Catholics for the practice of their faith.

Over a period of about 20 years he used his skills to build secret hiding places for priests throughout the country. His work, which he did completely by himself as both architect and builder, was so good that time and time again priests in hiding were undetected by raiding parties. He was a genius at finding, and creating, places of safety: subterranean passages, small spaces between walls, impenetrable recesses. At one point he was even able to mastermind the escape of two Jesuits from the Tower of London. Whenever Nicholas set out to design such hiding places, he began by receiving the Holy Eucharist, and he would turn to God in prayer throughout the long, dangerous construction process.

Nicholas enrolled as an apprentice to the Oxford joiner William Conway on the feast of the Purification of Blessed Mary, February 2nd, 1577. He was bound in indenture and as an apprentice for a period of eight years and the papers of indenture state that he was the son of Walter Owen, citizen of Oxford, carpenter. Oxford at the time was strongly Catholic. The Statute of artificers determined that sons should follow the profession into which they were born. If he completed his apprenticeship it would have been in 1585. We know from Fr. John Gerard, SJ, a biographer of Nicholas’, that he began building hides in 1588 and continued over a period of eighteen years when he could have been earning good money satisfying the contemporary demand for well-made solid furniture.

St Henry Garnet, SJ, Jesuit Superior in England at the time, in a letter dated 1596 writes of a carpenter of singular faithfulness and skill who has traveled through almost the entire kingdom and, without charge, has made for Catholic priests hiding places where they might shelter the fury of heretical searchers. If money is offered him by way of payment he gives it to his two brothers; one of them is a priest, the other a layman in prison for his faith.

Owen was only slightly taller than a dwarf, and suffered from a hernia caused by a horse falling on him some years earlier. Nevertheless, his work often involved breaking through thick stonework; and to minimize the likelihood of betrayal he often worked at night, and always alone. The number of hiding-places he constructed will never be known. Due to the ingenuity of his craftsmanship, some may still be undiscovered.

After many years at his unusual task, he entered the Society of Jesus and served as a lay brother, although—for very good reasons—his connection with the Jesuits was kept secret. After a number of narrow escapes, he himself was finally caught in 1594. Despite protracted torture, he refused to disclose the names of other Catholics. After being released following the payment of a ransom, “Little John” went back to his work. He was arrested again in 1606. This time he was subjected to horrible tortures, suffering an agonizing death. The jailers tried suggesting that he had confessed and committed suicide, but his heroism and sufferings soon were widely known.

Why should priests need hiding places? From 1585 it was considered treason, punishable by a traitor’s death, to be found in England if a priest had been ordained abroad. Of Owen, the modern edition of Butler’s Lives of the Saints says: “Perhaps no single person contributed more to the preservation of Catholic religion in England in penal times”.

The Gunpowder Plot of 1605, in earlier centuries often called the Gunpowder Treason Plot or the Jesuit Treason, was a failed assassination attempt against King James I of England and VI of Scotland by a group of provincial English Catholics led by Robert Catesby.  The last hope for the Catholics collapsed when peace was made with Spain. They had hoped that Catholic Spain, as part of the bargain, would have secured freedom for them to practice their religion. Relief of Catholics was discussed, but James said that his Protestant subjects wouldn’t stand for it.  So there was to be no relief. In fact the screw was tightened again.

Anglican bishops were ordered to excommunicate Catholics who would not attend Anglican services – this meant that no sale or purchase by them was valid, no property  could be passed on by deed or by will.  The level of persecution was higher than ever it had been under Elizabeth.

In the aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot, 1605, the result of the frustration of a group of young Catholics when, after dropping hints of toleration, James I made it clear that there would be no relaxation of anti – Catholic legislation, the hunt for priests accused of complicity centered on Hindlip House. This had been provided with hiding places by Nicholas Owen which proved undetectable. He himself was there and when he emerged after four days of hiding he was arrested.

At daybreak on Monday, 20th November, 1605, Hindlip House was surrounded by 100 men. They began to rip the house to pieces.  In the dark, early on Thursday morning, two men, Owen and Bl Ralph Ashley, SJ, another lay-brother and cook, were spotted stealing along a gallery.  They said they were no longer able to conceal themselves, having had but one apple between them for four days. They would not give their names.

It was hardly likely that Nicholas Owen, of all people, would not have been better provided.  They had twice been tipped off during the previous week that a search was imminent. Possibly they hoped that in giving themselves up they would distract attention from the two priests still in hiding, Fr Garnet, SJ, and Fr Oldcorne, SJ, still hiding in Hindlip House, even to being mistaken for them.  It was a ruse that had worked before. It didn’t work now.  The search was intensified.  The priests were in a hide which had been supplied with a feeding tube from an adjoining bedroom, but the hiding place had not been designed to be lived in for a week. After 8 days they emerged, were arrested and identified. All four were taken to London.

Nicholas Owen, SJ, had been in prison before; he had been tortured before.  He was now taken to the torture room, for the first time, on the 26th of February 1606. His identity as a hide-builder seemed to have been betrayed. “We will try to get from him by coaxing, if he is willing to contract for his life, an excellent booty of priests”.  Realizing just whom they had caught, and his value, Secretary of State, Robert Cecil exulted: “It is incredible, how great was the joy caused by his arrest… knowing the great skill of Owen in constructing hiding places, and the innumerable quantity of dark holes which he had schemed for hiding priests all through England.”

On March 2nd it was announced that Nicholas Owen had committed suicide.  People were simply incredulous. It would have been impossible for one who had been tortured as he had.  The Venetian Ambassador reported home:  “Public opinion holds that Owen died of the tortures inflicted on him, which were so severe that they deprived him not only of his strength but of the power to move any part of his body”.

It seems certain that the suicide story was a fiction concocted by a Government deeply embarrassed to find itself with a corpse in its custody as a result of torture.

For those few grim days in February, writes a historian, as the Government tried to break him, the fate of almost every English Catholic lay in Owen’s hands.

In life he had saved them, in death he would too: not a single name escaped him.

In opposition to English law, which forbade the torture of a man suffering from a hernia, as he was, he was racked day after day, six hours at a time. He died under torture without betraying any secret – and he knew enough to bring down the entire network of covert Catholics in England.

“Most brutal of all was the treatment given to Nicholas Owen, better known to the recusants as Little John. Since he had a hernia caused by the strain of his work, as well as a crippled leg, he should not have been physically tortured in the first place. But Little John, unlike many of those interrogated, did have valuable information about the hiding places he had constructed; if he had talked, all too many priests would have been snared ‘like partridges in a net’. In this good cause the government was prepared to ignore the dictates of the law and the demands of common humanity. A leading Councillor, on hearing his name, was said to have exclaimed: “Is he taken that knows all the secret places? I am very glad of that. We will have a trick for him.”

The trick was the prolonged use of the manacles, an exquisitely horrible torture for one of Owen’s ruptured state. He was originally held in the milder prison of the Marshalsea, where it was hoped that other priests would try to contact him, but Little John was ‘too wise to give any advantage’ and spent his time safely and silently at prayer. In the Tower he was brought to make two confessions on 26 February and 1 March.

In the first one, he denied more or less everything. By the time of the second confession, long and ghastly sessions in the manacles produced some results (his physical condition may be judged by the fact that his stomach had to be bound together with an iron plate, and even that was not very effective for long). Little John admitted to attending Father Garnet at White Webbs and elsewhere, that he had been at Coughton during All Saints visit, and other details of his service and itinerary.  However, all of this was known already. Little John never gave up one single detail of the hiding places he had spent his adult life constructing for the safety of his co-religionists.

The lay brother died early in the morning of 2 March. He died directly as a result of his ordeal and in horrible, lingering circumstances. By popular standards of his day, this was a stage of cruelty too far. The government acknowledged this in its own way by putting out the story that Owen had ripped himself open with the knife given him to eat his meat – while his keeper was conveniently looking elsewhere – rather than face renewed bouts of torture. Yet Owen’s keeper had told a relative who wanted Owen to make a list of his needs that his prisoner’s hands were so useless that he could not even feed himself, let alone write.

The story of the suicide was so improbable that neither Owen’s enemies nor his friends, so well acquainted with his character over so many years, believed it. Suicide was a mortal sin in the Catholic Church, inviting damnation, and it was unthinkable that a convinced Catholic like Nicholas Owen should have imperiled his immortal soul in this manner.”

Father Gerard wrote of him:  “I verily think no man can be said to have done more good of all those who laboured in the English vineyard. He was the immediate occasion of saving the lives of many hundreds of persons, both ecclesiastical and secular.”  -Autobiography of an Elizabethan

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-statue of St Nicholas Owen, SJ

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-St Nicholas Owen, SJ, being tortured in the Tower of London, 1606. Engraver Melchior Kusell“Societas Jesu ad sanguinis et vitae profusionem militans”

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-engraving, “Torture of Blessed Edward Oldcorne, SJ & St Nicholas Owen, SJ, by Gaspar Bouttats, National Portrait Gallery, London.  The Jesuit hanging from his wrists with weights tied to his feet is suffering the “Topcliffe rack”.  This method of torture was ultimately what killed Nicholas  Owen, as due to his hernia, “his bowels gushed out with his life”.

Catholic stage magicians who practice Gospel Magic, a performance type promoting Christian values and morals, consider St. Nicholas Owen the Patron of Illusionists and Escapologists due to his facility at using “trompe l’oeil”, “to deceive the eye”, when creating his hideouts and the fact that he engineered an escape from the Tower of London.  Many Catholic builders, if they are familiar with him, may say a prayer of intercession to St Nicholas Owen prior to beginning a new project.

“May the blood of these Martyrs be able to heal the great wound inflicted upon God’s Church by reason of the separation of the Anglican Church from the Catholic Church. Is it not one — these Martyrs say to us — the Church founded by Christ? Is not this their witness? Their devotion to their nation gives us the assurance that on the day when — God willing — the unity of the faith and of Christian life is restored, no offence will be inflicted on the honour and sovereignty of a great country such as England.”

–from the Homily of Pope Paul VI at the canonization of Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, including St. Nicholas Owen, SJ, 25 October 1970.

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-Saint Nicholas Owen, SJ, Felt Softie by SaintlySilver on Etsy, $19.00

Love,
Matthew

Mar 10 – St John Ogilvie, SJ, (1579-1615) – Priest, Martyr of Scotland

John Ogilvie’s noble Scottish family was partly Catholic and partly Presbyterian. His father raised him as a Calvinist, sending him to the continent to be educated. There John became interested in the popular debates going on between Catholic and Calvinist scholars.

Confused by the arguments of Catholic scholars whom he sought out, he turned to Scripture. Two texts particularly struck him: “God wills all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth,” 1 Tim 2:4, and “Come to me all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you” Mt 11:28.

Slowly, rejecting Calvinist predestination, John came to see that the Catholic Church could embrace all kinds of people. Among these, he noted, he was particularly impressed with the faith of many Catholic martyrs. He decided to become Catholic and was received into the Church at Louvain, Belgium, in 1596 at the age of 17.

John continued his studies, first with the Benedictines, then as a student at the Jesuit College at Olmutz. He joined the Jesuits and for the next 10 years underwent their rigorous intellectual and spiritual training.

Ordained a priest in France in 1610, he met two Jesuits who had just returned from Scotland after suffering arrest and imprisonment. They saw little hope for any successful work there in view of the tightening of the penal laws. But a fire had been lit within John. For the next two and a half years he pleaded to be missioned there.

It was a time of great persecution of Catholicism in Scotland. “Send only those,” wrote the Earl of Angus to the Jesuit General, “who wish for this mission and are strong enough to bear the heat of the day, for they will be in exceeding danger.”

Wholesale massacres of Catholics had taken place in the past, but by this point the hunters concentrated on priests and those who attended Mass. The Jesuits were determined to minister to the oppressed Catholic laity, but when captured, they were tortured for information, then hanged, drawn, and quartered.

Having grown a beard, learned a little about horse breeding, John was sent by his superiors, and secretly entered Scotland posing as a horse trader or a soldier, named ‘John Watson’, returning from the wars in Europe.

Unable to do significant work among the relatively few Catholics in Scotland, John made his way back to Paris to consult his superiors. Rebuked for having left his assignment in Scotland, he was sent back.

He warmed to the task before him and had some success in making converts and in secretly serving Scottish Catholics. But he was soon betrayed by a false Catholic, arrested and brought before the court.

His trial dragged on until he had been without food for 26 hours. He was imprisoned and deprived of sleep for eight days and nights. For eight days and nights he was dragged around, kept awake being prodded with sharp sticks and having his hair pulled out. His legs were crushed.  His finger nails were pulled out with pliers.  Still, he refused to reveal the names of Catholics or to acknowledge the jurisdiction of the king in spiritual affairs. He underwent a second and third trial but held firm.

At his final trial he assured his judges: “In all that concerns the king, I will be slavishly obedient; if any attack his temporal power, I will shed my last drop of blood for him. But in the things of spiritual jurisdiction which a king unjustly seizes I cannot and must not obey.”  “Your threats cheer me; I mind them no more than the cackling of geese,” he told his captors. Asked if he feared to die Father John replied, “No more than you do to dine.”

After three trials he was convicted of treason for being loyal to the Pope, and denying the king’s supremacy in spiritual matters. Finally taken to the scaffold, Fr. John’s last words were “If there be here any hidden Roman Catholics, let them pray for me but the prayers of heretics I will not have”.  His final prayers were a litany of the saints in Latin and then in English.

Condemned to death as a traitor, he was faithful to the end, even when on the scaffold he was offered his freedom and a fine living if he would deny his faith. After he was pushed from the stairs and began to hang, he threw his concealed rosary beads out into the crowd. The tale is told that one of his enemies caught them and subsequently became a lifelong devout Roman Catholic.  St John Ogilvie, SJ, was hanged and disemboweled 10 March 1615 at the age of 36.

The customary beheading and quartering were omitted owing to undisguised popular sympathy, and his body was hurriedly buried in the churchyard of Glasgow cathedral, in a place reserved for criminals.  No relic of his body has survived.  His courage in prison and in his martyrdom were reported throughout Scotland.

John Ogilvie was canonized in 1976, becoming the first Scottish saint since 1250.

John came of age when neither Catholics nor Protestants were willing to tolerate one another. Turning to Scripture, he found words that enlarged his vision.

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Prayer to St John Ogilvie, SJ

God our Father, Fountain of all blessing, we thank You for the countless graces that come to us in answer to the prayers of Your saints.  With great confidence we ask You in the name of Your Son and through the prayers of St John Ogilvie, SJ to help us in all our needs.

Lord Jesus, You chose Your servant St John Ogilvie, SJ to be Your faithful witness to the spiritual authority of the chief shepherd of your flock.  Keep Your people always one in mind and heart, in communion with Benedict our Pope, and all the bishops of your Church.  May Your ordained ministers always be exemplars of Your virtue, humility, service, self-sacrifice and love as they tend Your flock.

Holy Spirit, You gave St John Ogilvie light to know Your truth,  wisdom to defend it, and courage to die for it.  Through his prayers and example bring our country into the unity and peace of Christ’s kingdom.  Amen.

Love,
Matthew