Monday, May 22, 2017

John Senior's Life and Career: Realism and Christian Culture

I am not an alumna of the Pearson Integrated Humanities Program (PIHP) at the University of Kansas, but I know alumni of the program. A friend gave me a copy of this book about one of the three professors who developed and taught the program, John Senior and the Restoration of Realism by Father Francis Bethel, OSB, a monk of Clear Creek Abbey. Father Bethel is an alumnus of the program, and just one of the PIHP students who visited Fontgombault Abbey in France and became a monk or discerned a priestly vocation.

Father Bethel has written an intellectual biography of one of his teachers and mentors, demonstrating how John Senior put together his appreciation of reality in nature with an acceptance of the reality of things and the recognition that truth exists and can be known and must be acted upon. The interesting fact is that he'd lost that connection in the first place. Senior had been a cowboy and had experienced hard work and reality, but his interest in the Symbolist poets and Eastern philosophy and the occult led him for awhile into what he later called the Perennial Heresy, relativism and skepticism. Then he read St. Thomas Aquinas and rediscovered Realism: that what is is real and true. Something can't be both true and untrue: it is or it isn't, and we can and should accept this fact. That's the Perennial Philosophy of Realism he rediscovered and wanted to restore.

The book could have been titled John Senior and the Liberal Arts or John Senior and The Idea of a University Education, but Father Bethel's choice of title is appropriate because Senior's discovery of Realism led him to more than a career as an academic professor and one of the founders of the PIHP. It led him to a way of life, and it led him to Jesus and His Church. It led him to live with his wife and children in a certain way, owning a ranch and working it even as he taught at the University of Wyoming, always staying close to real things: the land, animals, books, musical instruments, etc. Instead of watching television--they did not own a TV set--they read books. His wife raised Afghan Hounds, elegant dogs, but dogs all the same that bark at inopportune times.

Browsing the index, I noticed the words "The Newman School of Catholic Thought" and found out more about John Senior's work at the Newman Center in Laramie, Wyoming and his contact with Father Charles Taylor. Father Taylor was one of the presenters at the 1979 Newman School of Catholic Thought I attended as a sophomore at WSU. At least one PIHP student attended that week (Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Nebraska, who wrote one of the blurbs for this book).

Father Bethel uses Senior's books, The Death of  Christian Culture and The Restoration of  Christian Culture to outline the problem and Senior's solution. He notes that Senior never sought political solutions to the crisis, but instead thought education and formation was the answer. Bethel describes Senior's melancholic temperament, his vast reading--and its limitations--and elements of his teaching style, summing him up as "a good man with a gift for communicating his subject." (p. 129)

In the heart of the book (Part II and Part III), describing in detail how Senior developed his plan of attack on the Perennial Heresy his students had accepted, Bethel shows himself an apt pupil of his master. He doesn't just tell the reader what Senior found in, for example, St. Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle, to inform his education theories and methods, he explains what Aquinas and Aristotle said and how Senior interpreted and used them in the formation of his theory of gradual, systematic education based upon opening the student's mind to nature through gymnastics and to the life of the mind through music (poetry and memory). Bethel explores Senior's understanding of the Four Modes of Knowledge in depth: Poetic, Rhetorical, Dialectic, and Scientific. He also describes Senior's proposal for a boy's education, found in an unpublished manuscript, "The Restoration of Innocence."

Part IV offers insights into the famed PIHP and its demise. The crucial element in attacks against the program was that so many students were becoming Catholics--and even monks--so that dedication to the Truth and believing that education should teach the Truth meant that the students were being proselytized or worse, brainwashed. Even though Senior, Nelick, and Quinn were cleared of those charges of trying to convert their students, the lack of diversity in the program--opposing views to Truth were presented--led University of Kansas officials to destroy the PIHP. Father Bethel notes that there was a later revival of interest in what Senior and Quinn taught in in the early 1980's, but then Senior's health (heart) problems brought about retirement. Senior and PIHP alumni kept in touch; he wrote the two books on Christian Culture, and there was a big reunion in 1995, John Senior died on April 8, 1999, when he was 77 years old. He and his wife were praying the Rosary.

Father Bethel bravely takes on his mentor's ecclesial wanderings in the post-Vatican II Catholic world. With misgivings about the rather Jansenist elements of the community, Senior attended what we now call the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite at churches with Society of Saint Pius X priests (although Bethel is reticent about where Senior attended Mass according to the Missal of 1962), even when he had access to the same Mass said by priests of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, a Clerical Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical right approved of and supported by Pope John Paul II and then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Bethel is sympathetic to Senior's plight, but believes that he should have attended the FSSP. There is a strange comment about Senior's confessions to "priests in obedience to Rome." Father Bethel comments, "This clearly suggests that this confessors did not judge him to be sinning by attending Society Masses." (p. 373) I'm not sure that it suggests anything, clearly or not, since we don't know what he confessed (and can't/shouldn't because of the Seal of the Confessional).

I do wish that in the chapters discussing and citing mostly the books on Christian Culture that page number citations were used in the text, instead of being relegated to end notes at the back of the book. I'd prefer end notes for each chapter when they are mostly comprised of "Ibid." and a page number. There are some problems with the bibliography formatting (on page 428, the second work by Chesterton, using the spacer for the author's name, is listed first and two of John Paul II's works are also listed first with the spacer coming last; also on page 429, two author's entries seem to have run together ("Newman, John Henry" and "Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace"). Those are quibbles, however, and don't detract from the great achievement of this book, which should inspire parents and educators to follow John Senior's example and advice.

Indeed, Anthony Esolen, who recently left Providence College to teach and lead The Center for the Restoration of Catholic Culture at Thomas More College in Merrimack, New Hampshire (where this book was published) seems poised to do so:

Imagine then dances in a great ballroom built just for such a thing; and imagine that the young people learn to dance as their grandparents may have done, with innocence and the natural attraction that boys and girls are meant to have for one another.

Imagine that you get people from the community who can play the fiddle, attracted despite themselves to the beauty of what is normal.
 People used to play musical instruments, for the pleasure and mirth of it, and not for pursuing a career.

Imagine a place for regular concerts, big and small, “professional” and amateur, by people with gray hair or by little ones with cowlicks or braids. All of the arts have gone sour; poetry, the first and highest art of man, has degenerated into political posturing, in verse without form and meter.


Gymnastics and Music, just as John Senior said.

Once you have read this book, you should read The Death of Christian Culture and The Restoration of Christian Culture. Both are available from Eighth Day Books.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

A Cardinal's Hat and Sainthood for Bishop John Fisher


Pope Paul III passed over the notion that Henry VIII had stripped Bishop John Fisher of his episcopal status and declared the imprisoned Bishop of Rochester a cardinal on May 20, 1535, a little more than a month before the good Cardinal's execution on June 22 that year. Of course, Fisher never received his Cardinal's hat, and the usual report is that Henry VIII threatened to send the Cardinal's head to Rome instead! Pope Paul III had named Fisher the Cardinal Priest of San Vitale, the altar of which is seen above. The full name of the church is the Basilica of Sts. Vitalis, Valeris, Gervase and Protase, honoring a family of martyrs!

Four hundred years later, Pope Pius XI canonized John Cardinal Fisher and Sir Thomas More on the anniversary of this creation. Pope Pius XI praised the new saint during his homily:

John Fisher, gifted by nature with a most gentle disposition, thoroughly versed in both sacred and profane lore, so distinguished himself among his contemporaries by his wisdom and his virtue that under the patronage of the King of England himself, he was elected Bishop of Rochester. In the fulfilment of this high office so ardent was he in his piety towards God, and in charity towards his neighbour, and so zealous in defending the integrity of Catholic doctrine, that his episcopal residence seemed rather a Church and a University for studies than a private dwelling.

He was wont to afflict his delicate body with fastings, scourges, and hair cloth; nothing was dearer to him than to be able to visit the poor, in order to comfort them in their miseries and to succour them in their needs. When he found someone frightened at the thought of his faults and terrified by chastisements to come, he brought comfort to the erring soul by restoring confidence in God’s mercy. Often when celebrating the Eucharistic Sacrifice, he was seen shedding abundant tears, while his eyes were raised to heaven in an ecstatic expression of love. When he preached to the multitudes of the faithful that crowded round to hear him, he seemed neither a man nor a herald of men, but an angel of God clothed in human flesh.

Nevertheless, whilst he was meek and affable towards the afflicted and the suffering, whenever there was question of defending the integrity of faith and morals, like a second Precursor of the Lord, in whose name he gloried, he was not afraid to proclaim the truth openly, and to defend by every means in his power the divine teachings of the Church. You are well aware, Venerable Brethren and Beloved Sons, of the reason why John Fisher was called in judgment and obliged to undergo the supreme test of martyrdom. It was because of his courageous determination to defend the sacred bond of Christian marriage—a bond indissoluble for all, even for those who wear the royal diadem—and to vindicate the Primacy with which the Roman Pontiffs are invested by divine command. That is why he was imprisoned and afterwards led to death. Serenely he advanced toward the scaffold and with the words of the Te Deum on his lips, he rendered thanks to God for being granted the grace of having his mortal life crowned with the glory of martyrdom, and he raised up to the Divine Throne a fervent prayer of supplication for himself, for his people and for his King. Thus did he give another clear proof that the Catholic Religion does not weaken, but increases the love of one’s country. When finally he mounted the scaffold, whilst a ray of sunlight cast a halo of splendour about his venerable grey hairs, he exclaimed with a smile: “Come ye to Him and be enlightened, and your faces shall not be confounded.” (Ps. xxxiii, 6.) Most assuredly the heavenly hosts of angels and saints hastened in joy to meet his holy soul, freed at last from the fetters of the body and winging flight toward eternal joys.


Saint John Fisher, pray for us!
Saint Thomas More, pray for us!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Shakespeare's "King Charles III"?

I watched the last hour of this PBS Masterpiece broadcast Sunday night; the show is available until May 28 online.

It is based upon a play written by Mike Bartlett as a Shakespearean History Play, although it describes events in the future, beginning with Queen Elizabeth II's death and the accession of Charles, the Prince of Wales as King Charles III. It even features the Ghost of Princess Diana--who is a confusing oracle indeed, predicting that both Charles AND William will be the greatest king that England has ever known!

The story is about a constitutional crisis based on the history of King William IV and the 1831-1832 Reform Act:

When the House of Commons defeated the First Reform Bill in 1831, Grey's ministry urged William to dissolve Parliament, which would lead to a new general election. At first, William hesitated to exercise his prerogative to dissolve Parliament because elections had just been held the year before and the country was in a state of high excitement which might boil over into violence. He was, however, irritated by the conduct of the Opposition, which announced its intention to move the passage of an Address, or resolution, in the House of Lords, against dissolution. Regarding the Opposition's motion as an attack on his prerogative, and at the urgent request of Lord Grey and his ministers, William IV prepared to go in person to the House of Lords and prorogue Parliament.[74] The monarch's arrival would stop all debate and prevent passage of the Address.[75] When initially told that his horses could not be ready at such short notice, William is supposed to have said, "Then I will go in a hackney cab!"[75] Coach and horses were assembled quickly and William immediately proceeded to Parliament. Said The Times of the scene before William's arrival, "It is utterly impossible to describe the scene ... The violent tones and gestures of noble Lords ... astonished the spectators, and affected the ladies who were present with visible alarm."[76] Lord Londonderry brandished a whip, threatening to thrash the Government supporters, and was held back by four of his colleagues. William hastily put on the crown, entered the Chamber, and dissolved Parliament.[77]

As in King William's day, so in Charles's putative reign: the monarch is defending progressive policies (in Charles's case, he's against a law restricting the Freedom of the Press). The twist is that in some ways, the Duchess of Cambridge (former Kate Middleton) is the Lady Macbeth of the piece, convincing William to dethrone his father (not murder him, of course). She has the ambition and desire to protect their son's right to the throne and believes that Charles is destroying the monarchy. Kate is trouble from the start, protesting that Charles isn't king until he is crowned. Camilla sets her straight on that.

According to PBS:

King Charles III Adapted by Mike Bartlett from his Tony-nominated stage play, and with Tim Pigott-Smith (Jewel in the Crown, The Hour) reprising the title role, King Charles III is a timely examination of contemporary Britain--part political thriller, part family drama.

Prince Charles has waited his entire life to ascend to the British throne. But after the Queen's death, he immediately finds himself wrestling his conscience over a bill to sign into law. His hesitation detonates a constitutional and political crisis and William (Oliver Chris, Breathless) and Kate (Charlotte Riley, Close to the Enemy) start to worry. With the future of the monarchy under threat, protests on the streets, and his family in disarray, Charles must grapple with his own identity and purpose to decide whether or not, in the twenty-first century, the British crown still has any real power.

This adaptation retains the daring verse of the original text while director Rupert Goold (The Hollow Crown) creates the ambitious scale and spectacle suggested by the play-from Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace to the restless streets of London.

Fascinating. Tim Piggott-Smith recreates his stage role in the movie; he died earlier this year.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Tracey Rowland's Survey of Catholic Theology


Tracey Rowland has written extensively about the theological works of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI. Carl Olson of the Catholic World Report interviewed her about her latest book, Catholic Theology, which I have in my queue to read:

Theologian, professor, and author Tracey Rowland holds two doctorates in theology, one from the Divinity School of Cambridge University (the civil PhD) and one from the John Paul II Institute at the Pontifical Lateran University (the pontifical STD) in addition to degrees in law and philosophy. After studies at the University of Queensland, she lectured in Soviet and Central European Politics at Monash University while completing a Masters degree in contemporary Central European political theory. From 1994-1996 she was a Research Fellow in the Faculty of Law at Griffith University with a focus on jurisprudence and Constitutional and Administrative Law. In 1996 she won a Commonwealth Scholarship to Cambridge University to work on her doctorate. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Notre Dame (Australia), she was the Dean of the John Paul II Institute in Melbourne for sixteen years. In 2014 she was appointed to the International Theological Commission and she is currently a member of the ITC's sub-commission on religious freedom.

Her books include
Culture and the Thomist Tradition: After Vatican II (London: Routledge, 2003), Ratzinger's Faith (Oxford University Press, 2008), Benedict XVI: A Guide for the Perplexed (London: Bloomsbury, 2010), the recently published Catholic Theology (London: Bloomsbury, 2017), and the forthcoming The Culture of the Incarnation: Essays in Catholic Theology (Ohio: Emmaus Academic, 2017). She recently corresponded with Carl E. Olson, editor of Catholic World Report, about her book Catholic Theology, the various (and often competing) schools of Catholic theology today, the crisis since Vatican II, and why theology is so important.

Please read the rest there.

As I read the interview, I noticed how it really synced up with a presentation at the Spiritual Life Center I'd recently attended, “Vatican II: Continuity or Disruption? Examining the Reception and Interpretation of the Conciliar Documents.” Perhaps the presenter, Father Patrick Reilley, read her book, because he discussed the two basic schools of thought about the Council, represented by the journals Concilium and Communio that Rowland highlights in two chapters of the book and in the interview.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

St. Thomas More's Chelsea Heir

Anne Fiennes (Sackville), Lady Dacre, died on May 14, 1595 and was buried in the Chelsea Old Church, where St. Thomas More had planned to rest with both his first wife, Jane, and his second, Alice. Anne was the heiress of More's Chelsea estates, according to this biography:

FIENNES or FIENES, ANNE LADY DACRE (d. 1595), was daughter of Sir Richard Sackville, treasurer of the exchequer to Elizabeth, and steward of the royal manors in Kent and Sussex, who was the son of Sir John Sackville (d. 1557), and Anne, daughter of Sir William Boleyn, uncle to Queen Anne Boleyn. Her mother was Winifred, daughter of Sir John Bridges, lord mayor of London, who after Sir Richard Sackville's death became the second wife of William Paulet, marquis of Winchester. Lady Dacre was sister to Elizabeth's trusted counsellor, Thomas Sackville, lord Buckhurst. She married Gregory Fienes [q. v.], son of Thomas Fienes, lord Dacre [q. v.], executed in 1541, who with his sister Margaret was restored in blood and honours in 1558. By her husband, with whom, according to her epitaph, she lived with much affection, she had no issue. She appears from the State Papers to have been a woman of strong mind and somewhat imperious and exacting disposition. She was at one time at variance with her brother, Lord Buckhurst, at another she addressed a long complaint to Elizabeth against her husband's sister, Margaret Lennard, for raising false reports concerning her, and endeavouring to prejudice her majesty against her. Her husband had incurred debts, for the discharge of which he desired to sell some portions of his estates, which Mrs. Lennard as his next heir sought to prevent, and at the same time desired to have lands settled on herself to her brother's prejudice (State Papers, Dom. vol. xxvi. Nos. 37–9). On the death of her mother, the Marchioness of Winchester, she came into possession of Sir Thomas More's house at Chelsea, which after his execution had been granted to William Paulet, marquis of Winchester. Here she and her husband made their home, her brother, Lord Buckhurst, often residing with them. Lord Dacre died at Chelsea on 25 Sept. 1594. She survived him only a few months, dying in the same house on 14 May 1595. Only a few weeks before her decease she had to defend herself from the charge of wishing to appropriate her husband's estate to herself (ib. 9 April 1592, No. 120). She and her husband were buried in the More Chapel in Chelsea Old Church, where, by her desire, a very magnificent marble monument was erected, exhibiting their effigies of full size under a Corinthian canopy, richly adorned with festoons of flowers. Her epitaph describes her in very laudatory terms as

Fœminei lux clara chori, pia, casta, pudica;
Ægris subsidium, pauperibusque decus;
Fida Deo, perchara tuis, constansque, diserta;
Sic patiens morbi, sic pietatis amans.

On the rebuilding of the church in 1667 this monument was removed to the south aisle. By her will, which is a long and very interesting document couched in a deeply religious spirit (Lansdowne MSS. lxxvii. Nos. 29, 30), dated 20 Dec. 1594, three months after her husband's decease, Lady Dacre made provision for the erection of an almshouse for twenty poor persons, ten of each sex, and a school for twenty poor children, in pursuance of a plan she and her husband had hoped to complete in their lifetime, the funds for its support being charged on the manor of Brandesburton in Yorkshire. The whole of her manors, lands, and houses at Chelsea, Kensington, and Brompton she bequeathed to Lord Burghley and his heirs. She begged the queen's acceptance of a jewel worth 300l., as ‘a poor remembrance of her humble duty for her manifold princely favours to her husband and herself.’ To her brother, Lord Buckhurst, she left, with other jewels, her majesty's picture, set round with twenty-six rubies, with a pendent pearl, ‘as a special remembrance of her love, being a guifte she very well did know would of all other things be most pleasing and acceptable unto him.’ The will contains many bequests to her gentlewomen and servants, not one of whom seems to be forgotten.

The Center for Thomas More Studies offers this sketch of his estate. Even though More was not interred there, Anne Dacre chose to be buried in his tomb, perhaps stressing the Chelsea connection. His tomb, with the epitaph he wrote--and sent a copy of to Erasmus--survived bombing in World War II.

After describing his career, Thomas More added this praise of his two wives with a humorous twist:

Within this tomb Jane, wife of More, reclines; 
This More for Alice and himself designs. 
The first, dear object of my youthful vow, 
Gave me three daughters and a son to know; 
The next—ah! virtue in a stepdame rare!— 
Nursed my sweet infants with a mother’s care. 
With both my years so happily have past, 
Which most my love, I know not—first or last. 
Oh! had religion destiny allowed, 
How smoothly mixed had our three fortunes flowed! 
But, be we in the tomb, in heaven allied, 
So kinder death shall grant what life denied. 

Image Credit: statue of Thomas More outside Chelsea Old Church.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Anglican Orders Redux

As this story from The Tablet recounts, a curia Cardinal is revisiting the issue of the validity of Anglican orders:

One of the Vatican’s top legal minds has opened the way for a revision of the Catholic position on Anglican orders by stressing they should not be written off as “invalid.”

In a recently published book, Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, calls into question Pope Leo XIII’s 1896 papal bull that Anglican orders are “absolutely null and utterly void.”

“When someone is ordained in the Anglican Church and becomes a parish priest in a community, we cannot say that nothing has happened, that everything is ‘invalid’,” the cardinal says in volume of papers and discussions that took place in Rome as part of the “Malines Conversations,” an ecumenical forum.

“This about the life of a person and what he has given …these things are so very relevant!”

For decades Leo XIII’s remarks have proved to be one of the major stumbling blocks in Catholic-Anglican unity efforts, as it seemed to offer very little room for interpretation or revision.

But the cardinal, whose department is charged with interpreting and revising Church laws, argued the Church today has a “a very rigid understanding of validity and invalidity” which could be revised on the Anglican ordination question.

To put this into historical and current context, therefore, is this article from the Homiletic & Pastoral Review, which points out that Anglicans, at least in the Thirty-Nine Articles, deem Catholic orders invalid (sacramentally):

The preoccupation with the Catholic rejection of Anglican orders in the past century has been accompanied by forgetfulness regarding the equally strong Anglican rejection of Catholic orders. Yet, the recognition that Anglican orders are not Catholic ones is not just a Roman Catholic pronouncement; it is also Anglican doctrine. Long before Pope Leo XIII declared, in 1893, that Anglican orders were deficient from a Catholic perspective, Queen Elizabeth I, in 1570, declared the Catholic view of orders deficient from an Anglican perspective.

The central points of Anglican belief are stated in the Articles of Religion, which were articulated and revised over a period of several decades during the tumultuous 16th century. Although Catholic-minded Anglicans since the Oxford Movement of the 1830s have often questioned them, the Articles were clearly intended to be an authoritative statement of Anglican belief. Though today, they do not carry the same kind of juridical authority as Roman Catholic doctrine, originally they carried even more. Conformity to them among the clergy was originally enforced on pain of death. Until the 19th century, it was a requirement for civil office in England. They have been included in every edition of the Book of Common Prayer in Great Britain and North America up to the present day, and are routinely cited by participants in Anglican theological discourse as representing the mind of the church.

Initially intended to affirm Catholic teaching in the face of the Lutheran reform, in successive revisions, the Articles came to adopt Protestant, and even explicitly anti-Catholic, views. Beginning with six articles stating points of Catholic doctrine by King Henry VIII in 1536, they had been expanded to 42 articles incorporating Lutheran ideas by Henry’s Protestant-leaning son, Edward VI, by 1552. These were eventually pared to 39 articles in 1570—following a convocation and the excommunication of the Pope by Queen Elizabeth. As John Henry Newman observed following his famous, but failed, attempt to interpret the Articles in a Catholic sense, “{i}t is notorious that the Articles were drawn up by Protestants, and intended for the establishment of Protestantism.”

Article 25 states that Ordination is not a sacrament (does not confer Sacramental Grace) in the Church of England:

Those five commonly called Sacraments—that is to say, Confirmation, Penance, Orders, Matrimony, and Extreme Unction—are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel, being such as have grown partly of the corrupt following of the Apostles, partly are states of life allowed in the Scriptures; but yet have not the like nature of Sacraments with Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, for that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God.

Archbishop Thomas Cranmer did not intend that ministers in the Church of England be like Catholic priests at all, because he did not believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist as Catholics do. Therefore, ministers in the Church of England did not have a sacramental sacrificial role:

. . .“Christ made no such difference between the priest and the layman that the priest should make oblation and sacrifice of Christ for the layman … but the difference between the priest and the layman in this matter is only in the ministration.” . . . .

The ministers of the Church of England were intended to be ministers of the Word, by speech in preaching, and by act in symbolic sacraments, and not priests of the true, substantive Body and Blood of Christ.

As a reminder, this is the Catholic teaching (from the Council of Trent) on priesthood:

Sacrifice and priesthood are, by the ordinance of God, in such wise conjoined, as that both have existed in every law. Whereas, therefore, in the New Testament, the Catholic Church has received, from the institution of Christ, the holy visible sacrifice of the Eucharist; it must needs also be confessed, that there is, in that Church, a new, visible, and external priesthood, into which the old has been translated. And the sacred Scriptures show, and the tradition of the Catholic Church has always taught, that this priesthood was instituted by the same Lord our Saviour, and that to the apostles, and their successors in the priesthood, was the power delivered of consecrating, offering, and administering His Body and Blood, as also of forgiving and of retaining sins. . . . 

Whereas, by the testimony of Scripture, by Apostolic tradition, and the unanimous consent of the Fathers, it is clear that grace is conferred by sacred ordination, which is performed by words and outward signs, no one ought to doubt that Order is truly and properly one of the seven sacraments of holy Church. For the apostle says; I admonish thee that thou stir up the grace of God, which is in thee by the imposition of my hands. For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love of sobriety.

The author, Father Donald Paul Sullins, is himself a former Anglican minister who became Catholic and was ordained under the Pastoral Provision issued by Pope St. John Paul II. He continues his article with a discussion of Anglican ministers becoming Catholic priests by sacramental ordination and states:

The Catholic Church today views the relation of Catholic to Protestant, not as the difference between wrong and right, but as between part and whole. It recognizes that many elements of genuine sanctity, doctrine, and orders are to be found in the separated churches of the Reformation, among whom, moreover, Anglicanism is held to have a special place. The bishops of England and Wales, in a joint statement, have made this explicit: “We would never suggest that those now seeking full communion with the Roman Catholic Church deny the value of their previous ministry. According to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, the liturgical actions of their ministry can most certainly engender a life of grace, for they come from Christ and lead back to him and belong by right to the one church of Christ.” 18

If one’s personal experience of grace in Anglican priestly ministry does not prove that the underlying orders are valid, it is equally true that a defect in the underlying orders does not nullify the experience of grace. . . . [Pope Leo XIII's document] 
Apostolicae Curae’s declaration of nullity of Anglican orders in no way denies the genuine grace and truth that is present in Anglican ordained ministry. The Catholic Church recognizes with joy and thanksgiving, and affirms the legitimacy of, the fruits of the Anglican priesthood.

Please read the rest there. It's also appropriate to recall Pope Leo's encouragement of Anglicans who wanted the fullness of the Christian faith to come home:

38. Hitherto perhaps, while striving after the perfection of Christian virtue, while devoutly searching the Scriptures, while redoubling their fervent prayers, they have yet listened in doubt and perplexity to the promptings of Christ who has long been speaking within their hearts. Now they see clearly whither He is graciously calling and bidding them come. Let them return to His one fold, and they will obtain both the blessings they seek and further aids to salvation; the dispensing of which He has committed to the Church, as the perpetual guardian and promoter of His redemption among the nations. Then will they 'draw waters with joy out of the fountains of the Saviour', that is, out of His wondrous sacraments; whereby the souls of the faithful are truly forgiven their sins and restored to the friendship of God, nourished and strengthened with the bread of heaven, and provided in abundance with the most powerful aids to the attainment of eternal life. To those who truly thirst after these blessings may 'the God of peace, the God of all consolation', grant them in overflowing measure, according to the greatness of His bounty.

39. Our appeal and Our hopes are directed in a special way to those who hold the office of ministers of religion in their respective communities. Their position gives them preeminence in learning and authority, and they assuredly have at heart the glory of God and the salvation of souls. Let them, then, be among the first to heed God's call and obey it with alacrity, thus giving a shining example to others. Great indeed will be the joy of Mother Church as she welcomes them, surrounding them with every mark of affection and solicitude, because of the difficulties which they have generously and courageously surmounted in order to return to her bosom. And how shall words describe the praise which such courage will earn for them in the assemblies of the faithful throughout the Catholic world, the hope and confidence it will give them before Christ’s judgement seat, the rewards that it will win for them in the kingdom of heaven! For Our part We shall continue by every means allowed to us to encourage their reconciliation with the Church, in which both individuals and whole communities, as We ardently hope, may find a model for their imitation. Meanwhile We beg and implore them all, through the bowels of the mercy of our God, to strive faithfully to follow in the open path of His truth and grace.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Chesterton on St. Francis of Assisi

Our Greater Wichita Chesterton Society group gathers on the second floor of Eighth Day Books this Friday at 6:30 p.m. to begin G.K.C.'s book about St. Francis of Assisi. Dale Ahlquist of the American Chesterton Society comments on the book:

Chesterton’s ten “biographies” are more like commentaries rather than accounts of the life and work of their subjects. Heavy on the analysis, light on the narrative. Even lighter on the facts. His subjects sometimes even appear to be secondary to the larger themes he wishes to discuss. His book on St. Francis, however, is unlike any of his other biographies. There are many more facts. The narrative is quite straightforward and highly dramatic. The analysis is supportive rather than overwhelming. Chesterton’s other biographies are really overwhelmed by Chesterton (which, in most cases, is what we would prefer); this one, however, is rightly filled to overflowing by the great saint of Assisi. Chesterton not only gets St. Francis to speak for himself, he does it in the way the little friar would have preferred: by conveying not his words, but his life. Chesterton describes St. Francis as “a poet whose whole life was a poem.”

This is the first real book written after Chesterton’s reception into the Catholic Church, the others being collections of poems, essays, and mysteries. Yet, we cannot sense much transition in Chesterton’s writing. One reason is that his conversion was the culmination of a long steady process in which he never really changed his way of thinking. It was more of a full flowering of all the ideas he had him. There is another reason, and it has to do with St. Francis. Chesterton had always admired this saint. Francis, he says, and “never been a stranger” to him and was like a bridge connecting Chesterton’s early literary life with the later.

St. Francis is one of the most popular saints and one of the most misunderstood. Chesterton says the world appreciates the saint but not the sanctity.

We are reading the Ignatius Press edition (available at Eighth Day Books) that includes Chesterton's study of St. Thomas Aquinas: at our first meeting we'll discuss the Introduction by Joseph Pearce and the first chapter, "The Problem of St. Francis". Refreshments will be served.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

From Flanders to Canterbury to Aix-en-Provence


Somehow, I find the English Reformation and its aftermath wherever I go!

My husband and I went to the used record store in the Delano neighborhood of downtown Wichita, Spektrum Rekords, and found some classical music LPs, including a series from the Musical Heritage Society/Erato Records called ". . . of Castles and Cathedrals". One of them is of liturgical music of Provencale composers, recorded in St. Sauveur (Holy Savior) Cathedral in Aix-en-Provence.

In searching online for more information about the LP and the cathedral, I found this note in the description of the notable art in the cathedral in the Wikipedia entry:

A set of seventeen tapestries of the life of Christ, bought in 1656 by the chapter thanks to a legacy from Archbishop Michel Mazarin. The tapestries were among twenty-six originally woven in 1511 for Canterbury Cathedral in England, and decorated the choir there until 1642, when they were taken down during the English Civil War. They made their way to Paris, where they were bought by the chapter and placed in the choir of the cathedral. The tapestries were stolen during the French Revolution, but repurchased by the Archbishop of Aix-en-Provence and Arles. In 1977, the first nine tapestries were stolen, and have not been recovered.

Here's more information about the tapestries.

Another great piece of art in the Cathedral, The Burning Bush, is pictured above with the side panels (you'll just have to imagine that the panels are on either side of the centerpiece):

The Burning Bush triptych by Nicolas Froment, an Avignon painter, is a masterpiece of the 15th century. The painting came from a Carmelite convent, destroyed during the French Revolution. The central panel represents the Virgin and Child seen on the burning bush. In the foreground, Moses, guarding his flock, is amazed by the vision. The two other parts of the triptych show the patrons of the work, King René I of Naples, also ruler of Provence, and his consort Queen Jeanne, in devotional attitudes.

The compositions on the LP are by Jocelyne Poitevin (by attribution), Joseph-Francois Salomon, and Andre Campra, "The Provencale Masters of the Motet", and are performed by the Stephane Caillat Chorale with its eponymous conductor. The subhead for the album is, "The glowing fervour of the musicians of Provence intensifies the prayers of their ardent faith". 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Angelic Anglican Churches in East Anglia


From the BBC comes this slideshow of "Angel Roofs" in Anglican churches in East Anglia--some that survived the iconoclasm of the English Reformation and some that that been recreated. The images are from a book by Michael Rimmer, The Angel Roofs of East Anglia: Unseen Masterpieces of the Middle Ages:

It has been estimated that over 90 per cent of England's figurative medieval art was obliterated in the image destruction of the Reformation. Medieval angel roofs, timber structures with spectacular and ornate carvings of angels, with a peculiar preponderance in East Anglia, were simply too difficult for Reformation iconoclasts to reach. Angel roof carvings comprise the largest surviving body of major English medieval wood sculpture. Though they are both masterpieces of sculpture and engineering, angel roofs have been almost completely neglected by academics and art historians, because they are inaccessible, fixed and challenging to photograph.

The Angel Roofs of East Anglia is the first detailed historical and photographic study of the region's many medieval angel roofs. It shows the artistry and architecture of these inaccessible and little-studied medieval artworks in more detail and clarity than ever before, and explains how they were made, by whom, and why.

Michael Rimmer redresses the scholarly neglect and brings the beauty, craftsmanship and history of these astonishing medieval creations to the reader. The book also offers a fascinating new answer to the question of why angel roofs are so overwhelmingly an East Anglian phenomenon, but relatively rare elsewhere in the country.

The Telegraph also published some photos from the book.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Supremacy Without Unity

From The Economist, a review of Heretics and Believers by Peter Marshall:

Mr Marshall provides convincing evidence that Catholicism survived well into Elizabeth’s reign. At least 800 clergymen were deprived or removed themselves for reasons of conscience, including as many as a quarter of the clergy in one diocese, Rochester, that is not far from Canterbury. Only 21 out of 90 senior clergy in northern England assented to the settlement, and 36 openly disagreed. Dissent among middle-ranking clergy was even higher. Of those not removed by the 1559 flu epidemic, fewer than half wished to continue.

A rebellion reckoned to be 7,000-strong in favour of the pope in 1569 was brutally suppressed. Many followers of the old religion simply conformed and dissembled. It is hard to understand how the people coped through these years. Tombs were vandalised; vicars protested at funerals. One village curate was known to shave his Protestant beard every time a change in religion was rumoured. However the English survived the Reformation, they did so as a nation divided.

Whig histories typically focus on the progress that the state and evangelicals made in forging a Church of England: a history of the winners. Mr Marshall’s contribution is a riveting account of the losers as well, the English zealots and cynics who wanted a better world or an unchanging one. The resulting story is of a Henrician supremacy that failed and an Elizabethan unity that never was.

Please read the rest there.