BREEKS V. WOOLFREY, 1 Curt. 880
Court of Arches, 19 November 1838
Spes Mea Christus
Pray for the soul of J. Woolfrey
It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead.
(2 Mac. xii. 46.)
The articles purport to state the law, and the facts to which the law is to be applied. The first article, with reference to the inscriptions, alleges that, by the twenty-second article of the Church of England agreed upon in 1562, it is declared that “the Romish doctrine concerning purgatory, pardons, and other things therein mentioned, is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the word of God.” That all persons erecting, or causing to be erected, in the churchyard of any parish any tomb- or head-stone, containing any inscription contrary to the doctrine and discipline of the Church of England and to the articles of the said Church, the person so doing ought not only to be peremptorily monished immediately to remove the same, but also be duly corrected and punished; and this proposition has not been denied by the other side. The second article sets forth the facts that, notwithstanding the premises, Mrs. Woolfrey did erect a tomb- or head-stone with the inscriptions before mentioned, which it alleges to be contrary to the doctrine and discipline of the Church of England, and to the articles, canons, and constitutions thereof, and particularly to the said twenty-second article, that due notice has been given to her to remove the same, but that she refuses so to do.
The authorities seem to go no further than this—to show that the Church discouraged prayers for the dead, but did not prohibit them; and that the XXII. Article is not violated by the use of such prayers.
I am, then, of opinion, on the whole of the case, that the offence imputed by the articles has not been sustained; that no authority or canon has been pointed out by which the practice of praying for the dead has been expressly prohibited; and I am accordingly of opinion that, if the articles were proved, the facts would not subject the party to ecclesiastical censure, as far as regards the illegality of the inscription on the tombstone. That part of the articles must, therefore, be rejected.
I am quite unable to understand the fuss made by High Church people on this matter. To begin with, what have they got to do with it? No one asks them to use our devotions, although a great many do use them, expurgated, revised, and corrected. Our friends seem to be under the impression that every Catholic is supposed to know about, to possess, and to use, every book of prayers or meditations published by any other Catholic. One might as well assert that every Anglican is bound to buy, and use, all devotional books found in Masters’ shop in Bond-street. A great many Catholics get on very comfortably without any books at all, and this for the simple and sufficient reason that they cannot read. And a great many more cannot afford to purchase such books, and are content with one Prayer Book, such as the Garden of the Soul. I myself, outside Mass and Office, am content with it, and use the copy given to me by an Italian priest at Benares in 1861. Outsiders seem ignorant of our freedom in such matters. The late Canon Oakeley, in his reply to the Eirenicon (which was published before that of Newman), pointed this out. Dr. Pusey would stipulate, said Oakeley, exemption from the obligation of adopting certain expressions of devotion towards the Blessed Virgin, but, added the Canon, “were he [Pusey] one of ourselves, he would come to know” that “no such obligation rests upon” Catholics. “I do not think,” said Oakeley, “that those who are external to us, have any just idea of the room which is allowed us for the free play of personal preferences, which do not clash either in form or spirit with the faith of the Church. . .” And, again “. . . Nothing that I know of would involve in well-grounded suspicion of disloyalty to the Church a Catholic who, while placing no restriction on the liberty of others, should as a matter of taste prefer the more measured language of our Liturgy and Offices on the subject in question, to that in which more ardent temperaments . . . might find a more congenial expression of their devotion.” And Father Lockhart reminded Pusey that the Church tolerated any amount of bad taste. How, indeed, could an Universal Church made up of all nations, peoples, and tongues, do otherwise ? When Pusey complained of a well-known book, The Glories of Mary, Newman replied that he had never read it. I have never read, and have never seen it but once in my life. Others may derive great edification from it, hut what Catholic supposes that every Catholic is obliged to acquire it, or use it ? And with regard to a foreign writer named Oswald, from whom Pusey quoted, neither Newman nor Oakeley had ever heard his name, and it turned out that the book to which Pusey objected had been for some years on the Roman Index.
Oakeley, too, pointed out that the most customary and popular of all devotions connected with our Lady are the Angelus and the Rosary, and added: “It is on this type, rather than on that of the ‘Glories of Mary’ that the ideas of our people are formed.” Pusey found great fault with some of Faber’s writings, and, for myself; I have, possibly to my great loss, never been able to read Faber, although I know that his writings have afforded, and afford, great spiritual edification to countless numbers of Catholics. Not only so, but to many non-Catholics. One Anglican vicar, an intimate friend of my own, must by this time know all Faber’s books nearly by heart. And I recollect, many years ago, lending The Creator and the Creature to a staunch Presbyterian lady who, after a time, sent me a new copy of the book, saying she should keep the old one, as she derived so much spiritual profit from its perusal.
When I lived in Kensington, I met one day in the Cromwell-road an old Oxford friend, an Anglican clergyman. I invited him to accompany me to Benediction at the Oratory, but he declined, not because he objected to Benediction, but because he disliked the Litany of Loreto. I remarked that, if he were a Catholic, he would be quite free to say any prayers he pleased during Benediction, and if he should prefer other devotions to the Litany, when sung, he could substitute such, just as we often see people telling their beads, or clergymen saying office, while the Benediction service is going on. Once, in a country house in Yorkshire, I had as fellow-guest the late Father Jerome Vaughan, and one Sunday after Benediction someone asked him if he liked the music used? To which he replied that he had not paid attention to it, as he had been engaged in asking a particular favour from St. Joseph. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty, and Catholics in Popular Devotions are not tied and bound to the frigid formalism of the excellent English of the Book of Common Prayer.
Critics of public-school religion really belong to two quite different groups—those who believe in the kind of religion which public schools try to instil, and regret their failure, in so far as they do fail, to instil it, and those who, believing in a different form of religion, whether Catholicism or an Anglicanism assimilated to it, tend to rejoice in the failure of the public schools, as becomes those possessed of an infallible remedy for such defects. I think, then, it should be said at the outset that public schools are trying to teach the sons of gentlemen a religion in which their mothers believe, and their fathers would like to: a religion without “enthusiasm” in the old sense, reserved in its self-expression, calculated to reinforce morality, chivalry, and the sense of truth, providing comfort in times of distress and a glow of contentment in declining years; supernatural in its nominal doctrines, yet on the whole rationalistic in its mode of approaching God: tolerant of other people’s tenets, yet sincere about its own, regular in church-going, generous to charities, ready to put up with the defects of the local clergyman. This religion the schoolmaster is under contract to teach; it is left to him, if he be a sincere Christian, to attempt the grafting on to this stock of supernatural graces which it does not naturally develop—self-sacrifice, lively devotion, worthy reception of the Communion, and so on. That is the proposition.
Now, here is no question of what could or what could not be done if all school chapels were furnished and managed like (let us say) St. Alban’s, Holborn. That is not the religion which the vast majority of parents want, and the vast majority of schoolmasters personally believe in. To attempt the consolation of the schoolmaster by pointing out to him the advantages of an elaborate ceremonial and strongly Sacramental doctrines, is like addressing a lecture on aviation to a shipwrecked sailor treading water in mid-ocean:
Nihil iste nec ausus Nec potuit,
it is not his business.
On the other hand, it is true that there is a sense in which Catholicism can be taught, and ordinary Anglicanism cannot. For Anglicanism, generally speaking, is not a system of religion nor a body of truth, but a feeling, a tradition, its roots intertwined with associations of national history and of family life; you do not learn it, you grow into it; you do not forget it, you grow out of it. And if I were asked what was the best way of perpetuating this tradition among boys between the ages of twelve and eighteen, I would say, “Have a chapel of good architectural proportions, decently decorated; shorten the Anglican service for daily use; sing plenty of hymns, carefully selected; associate, as far as possible, the school with the school chapel; encourage the idea that its influence hallows school friendships, consecrates school triumphs; let the preaching be patriotic, but not Jingo, about the country, the Church, the school itself. Let confirmation be a public, not a hole-and-corner act; spare no effort to invest the Communion service with an air of special aloofness and sanctity.” It need hardly be said that this is exactly what public schools do. And the trouble is that it does not fail; it succeeds. It succeeds only too well.
Deus cui omne cor patet et omnis voluntas loquitur: et quem nullum latet secretum: purifica per infusionem sancti spiritus cogitationes cordis nostri: ut te perfecte diligere et digne laudare mereamur, per dominum nostrum iesum christum filium tuum qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate eiusdem spiritus sancti deus, per omnia secula seculorum. Amen.
A Dhé Uile-chumhachdaich, d’ am bheil gach cridhe fosgailte, gach miann aithnichte, agus o nach ’eil ni uaigneach air bith folaichte; Glan smuaintean ar cridheachan le deachdadh do Spioraid naoimh; a chum gu’n toir sinn gràdh iomlan dhuit, agus gu’n àrd-mhol sinn gu h-iomchuidh d’ Ainm naomh, tre Chriosd ar Tighearn. Amen.
1895 Gaelic translation of the Prayer-book, from David Griffith, Bibliography of the Book of Common Prayer, 37:5.
God, unto Whom alle hertes ben open, and unto Whom alle wille spekith, and unto Whom no privé thing is hid: I beseche Thee so for to clense the entent of myn hert with the unspekable gift of Thi grace that I may parfiteliche love Thee, and worthilich preise Thee. Amen.
Well, more anon.—Comes the king forth, I pray you?
Ay, sir; there are a crew of wretched souls
That stay his cure. Their malady convinces
The great assay of art, but at his touch—
Such sanctity hath heaven given his hand—
They presently amend.
I thank you, doctor.
What’s the disease he means?
‘Tis called the evil.
A most miraculous work in this good king,
Which often since my here-remain in England
I have seen him do. How he solicits heaven,
Himself best knows, but strangely visited people,
All swoll’n and ulcerous, pitiful to the eye,
The mere despair of surgery, he cures,
Hanging a golden stamp about their necks,
Put on with holy prayers. And, ’tis spoken,
To the succeeding royalty he leaves
The healing benediction. With this strange virtue,
He hath a heavenly gift of prophecy,
And sundry blessings hang about his throne,
That speak him full of grace.
Macbeth, Act 4. Scene 3.
[N]o one is so perfectly cured, as not to be attacked again by the same disease, if he be so unfortunate to lose the coin which the king hangs about his neck when he is touched, in which case he must be touched again.
à la Haye, Relation … du Voyage et Sèjour du Roy de la Grande Bretagne &c., 1660.
AT THE HEALING.
PREVENT us, O Lord, in all our doings with thy most gracious favour, and further us with thy continual help, that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in thee, we may glorify thy holy Name, and finally by thy mercy obtain everlasting life: through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Holy Gospel is written in the 16th Chapter of Saint Mark, beginning at the 14th Verse.
JESUS appeared unto the Eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my Name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.
Lord have mercy upon us. Christ have mercy upon us.
Lord have mercy upon us.
OUR Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, As it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. Amen.
¶ Then shall the infirm Persons, one by one, be presented to the Queen upon their Knees; and as every one is presented and while the Queen is laying Her Hands upon them, and putting the Gold about their Necks, the Chaplain that officiates, turning himself to her Majesty, shall say these words following:
GOD give a Blessing to this Work; and grant that these sick Persons, on whom the Queen lays her Hands, may recover, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
¶ After all have been presented, the Chaplain shall say, [These answers are to be made by them that come to be Healed.]
Vers.O Lord, save thy servants; Resp.Who put their trust in thee. Vers. Send unto them help from thy holy place. Resp.And evermore mightily defend them. Vers. Help us, O God of our Salvation. Resp.And for the glory of thy Name deliver us, and be merciful unto us sinners, for thy Name’s sake. Vers. O Lord, hear our prayers. Resp.And let our cry come unto thee.
Let us pray.
O ALMIGHTY God, who art the Giver of all health, and the aid of them that seek to thee for succour, we call upon thee for thy help and goodness mercifully to be shewed upon these thy servants, that they being healed of their Infirmities may give thanks unto thee in thy holy Church, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
¶ Then the Chaplain, standing with his face towards them that come to be healed, shall say,
THE Almighty Lord, who is a most strong tower to all them that put their trust in him, to whom all things in heaven, in earth, and under the earth, do bow and obey, be now and evermore thy defence; and make you know and feel, that there is none other Name under heaven given to man, in whom, and through whom, thou mayest receive health and salvation, but only the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
THE grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all evermore. Amen.
(As appended to the Book of Common Prayer during the reign of Queen Anne. The service was thus retained in a Prayer-Book printed in the fifth or sixth year of George I, though it is said that the queen was the last (de facto) sovereign to touch for the sure of the Evil.)
* * *
The practice of the Royal Healing seems to have reached its zenith during the reign of Charles II (evidently no fewer than ninety-two thousand persons availed themselves of His Majesty’s touch during the twenty years following the Restoration). After the Revolution, William of Orange, on being requested to touch, refused to do so, referring applicants instead to his exiled uncle at St. Germain. Anne touched frequently, one of her last patients being Dr. Samuel Johnson. Like William III, George I (and the succeeding Hanoverians) positively refused to touch, perhaps on account of the extravagance of the display, to which the monarch was temperamentally averse, or perhaps because the service seemed too Catholic, but the Stuarts continued the practice in exile — James III, Charles Edward Stuart, and finally by the Cardinal Duke, whose Diary contains a great many entries to this effect.
The authorities of Washington College having tendered to Mrs. Lee the college chapel as a burial-place for General Lee, the offer was accepted; and 1 1/2 o’clock P. M. on the 14th of October was the time fixed on for the removal of the remains from the residence of the deceased to the chapel, where they were to lie in state until Saturday, the 15th of October, the day appointed for the burial. At the hour named, the procession to convey the body was formed under the charge of Professor J. J. White as chief-marshal, aided by assistants appointed by the students. The escort of honor consisted of Confederate soldiers, marshaled by the Hon. J. K. Edmondson, late colonel of the Twenty-seventh Virginia Regiment. Following the escort came the hearse, preceded by the clergy, and attended by twelve pall-bearers, representing the trustees, Faculty, and students of Washington College, the authorities of the Virginia Military Institute, the soldiers of the Confederate army, and the citizens of Lexington. Just in the rear of the hearse, Traveler [sic], the noble white war-horse of General Lee, with saddle and bridle covered with crape, was led by two old soldiers. Then came in order the long procession composed of the college authorities and students, the corps of cadets with their Faculty, and the citizens. The body was borne to the college chapel, and laid in state on the dais; the procession passing slowly by, that each one might look upon the face of the dead. The body, attired in a simple suit of black, lay in a metallic coffin, strewed by pious hands with flowers and evergreens. The chapel, with the care of the remains, was then placed in charge of the guard of honor, appointed by the students from their own number. This guard kept watch by the coffin until the interment, and gave to all who desired it the opportunity of looking once more upon the loved and honored face.
On Friday morning, October 14th, the college chapel was filled at nine o’clock with a solemn congregation of students and citizens, all of whom seemed deeply moved by the simple exercises. Rev. Dr. Pendleton read from Psalm xxxvii. 8-11 and 28-40, and with deep feeling applied its lessons to the audience, as illustrated in the life and death of General Lee. The speaker had for forty-five years been intimately associated with this great and good man as fellow-student, comrade-in-arms, and pastor; and testified to his singular and consistent rectitude, dignity, and excellence under all the circumstances of life, and to that meekness in him that under the most trying adversity knew not envy, anger, or complaint. ‘The law of God was in his heart,’ therefore did ‘none of his steps slide.’ ‘Mark the perfect man and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace.’ The minister powerfully illustrated the text of his discourse in the career of this great and good man, and urged his hearers to profit by the example of this servant of the Lord.
The venerable Dr. White, Stonewall Jackson’s pastor, and the Rev. John William Jones, of the Baptist Church, who had served as chaplain in the Confederate army, and had since been intimately connected with General Lee, followed with brief but interesting remarks on the Christian character of the deceased.
On the 14th of October, General W. H. F. Lee, Captain Robert E. Lee, and other members of the family, arrived; and on this and the following day delegations from the Legislature of Virginia and from various places in the Commonwealth reached Lexington over roads almost impassable from the ravages of the recent great flood. The flag of Virginia, draped in mourning, hung at half-mast above the college, badges of sorrow were everywhere visible, and a general gloom rested on the hearts of old and young.
Saturday, October 15th, was the day appointed for the funeral. A cloudless sky and a pure, bracing air made a suitable close to the splendid and unsullied career of the man who was now to be consigned to the tomb. It was desired to avoid all mere pageantry and display, and that all the honors paid should accord with the simple dignity of the dead. This spirit prevailed in all the proceedings, and gave character to the ceremonies of the day.
It was thought proper that those who had followed his flag should lay the honored body of their chief in its last resting-place, and the escort of honor of Confederate soldiers, much augmented in numbers, and commanded by General B. T. Johnson, assisted by Colonel Edmondson, Colonel Maury, and Major Dorman, was assigned the post of honor in the procession.
The following account of the ceremonies is taken from a newspaper letter, written at the time, by Rev. J. Win. Jones:
‘The order of the procession was as follows:
Escort of Honor, consisting of Officers and Soldiers of the Confederate Army.
Chaplain and other Clergy.
Hearse and Pall-Bearers.
General Lee’s Horse.
The Attending Physicians.
Trustees and Faculty of Washington College.
Dignitaries of the State of Virginia.
Visitors and Faculty of Virginia Military Institute.
Other Representative Bodies and Distinguished Visitors.
Alumni of Washington College.
Cadets Virginia Military Institute.
Students Washington College as Guard of Honor.
‘At ten o’clock precisely the procession was formed on the college-grounds in front of the president’s house, and moved down Washington Street, up Jefferson Street to the Franklin Hall, thence to Main Street, where it was joined, in front of the hotel, by the representatives of the State of Virginia and other representative bodies in their order, and by the organized body of the citizens in front of the courthouse.
‘The procession then moved by the street to the Virginia Military Institute, where it was joined by the visitors, Faculty, and cadets of the Institute, in their respective places. The procession was closed by the students of Washington College as a guard of honor, and then moved up through the Institute and college grounds to the chapel.
‘The procession was halted in front of the chapel, when the cadets of the Institute and the students of Washington College were marched through the college chapel past the remains, and were afterward drawn up in two bodies on the south side of the chapel. The remainder of the procession then proceeded into the chapel and were seated under the direction of the marshals. The gallery and side blocks were reserved for ladies.
‘As the procession moved off, to a solemn dirge by the Institute band, the bells of the town began to toll, and the Institute battery fired minute-guns, which were kept up during the whole exercises.
‘In front of the National Hotel the procession was joined by the committee of the Legislature, consisting of Colonel W. H. Taylor, Colonel E. Pendleton, W. L. Riddick, Major Kelley, Geo. Walker, Z. Turner, H. Bowen, T. O. Jackson, and Marshall Hanger; the delegation from the city of Staunton, headed by Colonel Bolivar Christian and other prominent citizens; and such other delegations as had been able to stem the torrents which the great freshet had made of even the smaller streams.
‘It was remarked that the different classes who joined in the procession mingled into each other, and that among the Boards of the College and Institute, the Faculties, the students and cadets, the legislative committee, the delegations, and even the clergy, were many who might with equal propriety have joined the soldier guard of honor; for they, too, had followed the standard of Lee in the days that tried men’s souls.
‘Along the streets the buildings were all appropriately draped, and crowds gathered on the corners and in the balconies to see the procession pass. Not a flag floated above the procession, and nothing was seen that looked like an attempt at display. The old soldiers wore their ordinary citizens’ dress, with a simple black ribbon in the lappel of their coats; and Traveler [sic], led by two old soldiers, had the simple trappings of mourning on his saddle.
‘The Virginia Military Institute was very beautifully draped, and from its turrets hung at half-mast, and draped in mourning, the flags of all of the States of the late Southern Confederacy.
‘When the procession reached the Institute, it passed the corps of cadets drawn up in line, and a guard of honor presented arms as the hearse passed. When it reached the chapel, where an immense throng had assembled, the students and cadets, about six hundred and fifty strong, marched into the left door and aisle past the remains and out by the right aisle and door to their appropriate place. The rest of the procession then filed in. The family, joined by Drs. Barton and Madison, the attending physicians, and Colonels W. H. Taylor and C. S. Venable, members of General Lee’s staff during the war, occupied seats immediately in front of the pulpit; and the clergy, of whom a number were present, Faculty of the College, and Faculty of the Institute, had places on the platform.
‘The coffin was covered with flowers and evergreens, while the front of the drapery thrown over it was decorated with crosses of evergreen and immortelles.
‘Rev. Dr. Pendleton, the long intimate personal friend of General Lee, his chief of artillery during the war, and his pastor the past five years, read the beautiful burial services of the Episcopal Church. No sermon was preached, and nothing said besides the simple service, in accordance with the known wishes of General Lee.
‘After the funeral services were concluded in the chapel, the body was removed to the vault prepared for its reception, and the concluding services read by the chaplain from the bank on the southern side of the chapel, in front of the vault.
‘There was sung, in the chapel, the 124th hymn of the Episcopal collection; and, after the coffin was lowered into the vault, the congregation sang the grand old hymn,
“How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord.”
‘This was always a favorite hymn of General Lee’s, and was, therefore, especially appropriate upon this sad occasion.
‘The vault is constructed of brick, lined with cement. The top just reaches the floor of the library, and is double capped with white marble, on which is the simple inscription:
ROBERT EDWARD LEE,
BORN JANUARY 19, 1807; DIED OCTOBER 12, 1870.
‘This temporary structure is to be replaced by a beautiful sarcophagus, the design of which has been already committed to Valentine, the gifted Virginia sculptor.’
The simple services concluded, the great assemblage, with hearts awed and saddened, defiled through the vaulted room in which was the tomb, to pay the last token of respect to the mighty dead. Thus ended the funeral of General Robert E. Lee.
— Account of the funeral of General Robert E. Lee by Col. William Preston Johnston.
On the rubric “All devoutly kneeling” after the Creed:
Est acrior Tertulliani objurgatio in eos, qui sedentes orant. “Cum enim (inquit) perinde faciant nationes adoratis sigillaribus suis residendo, vel propterea in nobis reprehendi meretur, quod apud idola celebratur. Eo adponitur et irreverentiæ crimen, etiam ipsis nationibus, siquid saperent, intelligendum, siquidem irreverens est adsidere sub conspectu ejus, quem cum maxime reverearis et venereris; quanto magis sub conspectu Dei vivi Angelo adhuc Orationis adstante, factum illud est irreligiosissimum, nisi quod exprobramus Deo, quod nos oratio fatigarit.” Tert. de Orat., c. 12. Ubi ex tribus capitibus format reprehensionem: 1°. quod perinde faciant nationes, quas imitari, meretur in nobis reprehendi. 2°. quod etiam inter homines irreverens sit, coram et contra eum sedere cui debes venerationem; 3°. denique signum sit animæ languentis et oratione fatigatæ. The ancient Christians performed all their service standing or kneeling; sitting they allowed not.
— John Cosin, Notes on the Book of Common Prayer, Works, Vol. 5, Oxford (1860).
Quando orabas cum lacrimis, et sepeliebas mortuos, et derelinquebas prandium tuum, et mortuos abscondebas per diem in domo tua, et nocte sepeliebas eos, ego obtuli orationem tuam Domino.
Tob. xii. 12.
Apparuit autem illi angelus Domini, stans a dextris altaris incensi.
Luc. i. 11.
Et alius angelus venit, et stetit ante altare habens thuribulum aureum: et data sunt illi incensa multa, ut daret de orationibus sanctorum omnium super altare aureum, quod est ante thronum Dei. Et ascendit fumus incensorum de orationibus sanctorum de manu angeli coram Deo.
See where I am sending an angel of mine, to make the way ready for my coming! All at once the Lord will visit his temple; that Lord, so longed for, welcome herald of a divine covenant. Ay, says the Lord of hosts, he is coming; but who can bear the thought of that advent? Who will stand with head erect at his appearing? He will put men to a test fierce as the crucible, searching as the lye that fullers use. From his judgement-seat, he will refine that silver of his and cleanse it from dross; like silver or gold, the sons of Levi must be refined in the crucible, ere they can offer the Lord sacrifice duly performed. Then once more the Lord will accept the offerings of Juda and Jerusalem, as he did long since, in the forgotten years. Come I to hold assize, not slow to arraign the sorcerer, the adulterer, the forsworn, all of you that deny hired man his wages, widow and orphan redress, the alien his right, fearing no vengeance from the Lord of hosts. In me, the Eternal, there is no change, and you, sons of Jacob, are a people still.
Yours to keep the law ever in mind, statute and award I gave to assembled Israel through Moses, that was my servant. And before ever that day comes, great day and terrible, I will send Elias to be your prophet; he it is shall reconcile heart of father to son, heart of son to father; else the whole of earth should be forfeit to my vengeance.
Whatever the acknowledged intention of the compilers, [the Prayer-Book] can and does add up to an ascetical system of brilliant simplicity. A good deal is said and written about the ambiguity of rubric and the omission of clear ceremonial direction; what is overlooked is the significance of a far greater omission than this. About one-sixth of the Prayer Book deals with sacraments and rites for the occasional necessities of life, including, of course, the initiatory sacraments. All the rest — five-sixths — is concerned with Holy Communion and the Office; and nothing else whatsoever. It is more rigidly ascetical than the Rule of St Benedict! Martin Thornton, Feed My Lambs (1960), VI.
Sed licet nos aut angelus de cælo evangelizet vobis præterquam quod evangelizavimus vobis, anathema sit. Gal. i. 8.
Two religions confront each other; we are in a dramatic situation and it is impossible to avoid a choice, but the choice is not between obedience and disobedience. What is suggested to us, what we are expressly invited to do, what we are persecuted for not doing, is to choose an appearance of obedience. But even the Holy Father cannot ask us to abandon our faith.
We therefore choose to keep it and we cannot be mistaken in clinging to what the Church has taught for two thousand years. The crisis is profound, cleverly organized and directed, and by this token one can truly believe that the mastermind is not a man but Satan himself. For it is a master-stroke of Satan to get Catholics to disobey the whole of Tradition in the name of obedience. A typical example is furnished by the “aggiornamento” of the religious societies. By obedience, monks and nuns are made to disobey the laws and constitutions of their founders, which they swore to observe when they made their profession. Obedience in this case should have been a categorical refusal. Even legitimate authority cannot command a reprehensible and evil act. Nobody can oblige anyone to change his monastic vows into simple promises, just as nobody can make us become Protestants or modernists. St. Thomas Aquinas, to whom we must always refer, goes so far in the Summa Theologica as to ask whether the “fraternal correction” prescribed by Our Lord can be exercised towards our superiors. After having made all the appropriate distinctions he replies: “One can exercise fraternal correction towards superiors when it is a matter of faith.”
If we were more resolute on this subject, we would avoid coming to the point of gradually absorbing heresies. At the beginning of the sixteenth century the English underwent an experience of the kind we are living through, but with the difference that it began with a schism. In all other respects the similarities are astonishing and should give us cause to ponder. The new religion which was to take the name “Anglicanism” started with an attack on the Mass, personal confession and priestly celibacy. Henry VIII, although he had taken the enormous responsibility of separating his people from Rome, rejected the suggestions that were put to him, but a year after his death a statute authorized the use of English for the celebration of the Mass. Processions were forbidden and a new order of service was imposed, the “Communion Service” in which there was no longer an Offertory. To reassure Christians another statute forbade all sorts of changes, whereas a third allowed priests to get rid of the statues of the saints and of the Blessed Virgin in the churches. Venerable works of art were sold to traders, just as today they go to antique dealers and flea markets.
Only a few bishops pointed out that the Communion Service infringed the dogma of the Real Presence by saying that Our Lord gives us His Body and Blood spiritually. The Confiteor, translated into the vernacular, was recited at the same time by the celebrant and the faithful and served as an absolution. The Mass was transformed into a meal or Communion. But even clear-headed bishops eventually accepted the new Prayer Book in order to maintain peace and unity. It is for exactly the same reasons that the post-Conciliar Church wants to impose on us the Novus Ordo. The English bishops in the Sixteenth Century affirmed that the Mass was a “memorial!” A sustained propaganda introduced Lutheran views into the minds of the faithful. Preachers had to be approved by the Government.
During the same period the Pope was only referred to as the “Bishop of Rome.” He was no longer the father but the brother of the other bishops and in this instance, the brother of the King of England who had made himself head of the national church. Cranmer’s Prayer Book was composed by mixing parts of the Greek liturgy with parts of Luther’s liturgy. How can we not be reminded of Mgr. Bugnini drawing up the so-called Mass of Paul VI, with the collaboration of six Protestant “observers” attached as experts to the Consilium for the reform of the liturgy? The Prayer Book begins with these words, “The Supper and Holy Communion, commonly called Mass…,” which foreshadows the notorious Article 7 of the Institutio Generalis of the New Missal, revived by the Lourdes Eucharistic Congress in 1981: “The Supper of the Lord, otherwise called the Mass.” The destruction of the sacred, to which I have already referred, also formed part of the Anglican reform. The words of the Canon were required to be spoken in a loud voice, as happens in the “Eucharists” of the present day.
The Prayer Book was also approved by the bishops “to preserve the internal unity of the Kingdom.” Priests who continued to say the “Old Mass” incurred penalties ranging from loss of income to removal pure and simple, with life imprisonment for further offences. We have to be grateful that these days they do not put traditionalist priests in prison.
Tudor England, led by its pastors, slid into heresy without realizing it, by accepting change under the pretext of adapting to the historical circumstances of the time. Today the whole of Christendom is in danger of taking the same road. Have you thought that even if we who are of a certain age run a smaller risk, children and younger seminarians brought up in new catechisms, experimental psychology and sociology, without a trace of dogmatic or moral theology, canon law or Church history, are educated in a faith which is not the true one and take for granted the new Protestant notions with which they are indoctrinated? What will tomorrow’s religion be if we do not resist?
You will be tempted to say: “But what can we do about it? It is a bishop who says this or that. Look, this document comes from the Catechetical Commission or some other official commission.”
That way there is nothing left for you but to lose your faith. But you do not have the right to react in that way. St. Paul has warned us: “Even if an angel from Heaven came to tell you anything other than what I have taught you, do not listen to him.”
Such is the secret of true obedience.
— Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre’s An Open Letter to Confused Catholics.
INSTRUCTIONS FROM HIS SACRED MAJESTY TO THE ARCHBISHOPS AND BISHOPS OF SCOTLAND. CHARLES REX.
That you advert that the Proclamation authorizing their Service Book derogate nothing from our Royall prerogative. That in the Kalendar you keep such Catholick Saints as are in the English; that you pester it not with too many; but such as you insert of the peculiar Saints of that our Kingdom, that they be of the most approved; and here to have regard to those of the Blood Royall and such Holy Bishops in every See most renouned. But in no case ommitt Saint George and Patrick. That in your Book of Orders, in giving Orders to Presbiters, you keep the words of the English Book, without change, “Receive the Holy Ghost,” &c. That you insert in the Lessons ordinarly to be Read in the Service, out of ye Book of Wisdome, the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 Chapters; and out of the Book of Ecclesiasticus, the 1, 2, 5, 8, 35, and 49 Chapters. That every Bishop in his own family, twice a day, cause the Service to be done. That all A.Bishops and Bishops make all Universitys and Colledges within their Diocesses to use twice a day the Service. That the Preface to the Common Prayer, Signed by our hand, and the Proclamation authorizing the same, be Printed and inserted in the Book of Common Prayer.– Given at Newmarket, Oct. 8th, 1636, and of our Reigne the 11.
And after the seconde lesson, throughout the whole yere, shalbe used Benedictus dominus deus Israel, etc. in Englishe as followeth:
BLESSED be the lorde God of Israel : for he hath visited and redemed his people.
And hath lyfted up an horne of salvacyon to us : in the house of his servaunt David.
As he spake by the mouth of his holy Prophetes : which hath bene syns the world began.
That we shoulde be saved from our enemies : and from the handes of all that hate us.
To perfourme the mercy promised to our fathers : and to remember his holy covenaunt.
To perfourme the othe whiche he sware to our father Abraham : that he would geve us.
That we being delivered out of the handes of our enemies might serve him without feare,
In holynesse and ryghteousnes before him all the dayes of our lyfe.
And thou childe, shalte bee called the prophete of the highest: for thou shalte goe hefore the face of the Lord, to prepare his wayes.
To geve knowledge of salvacion unto his people : for the remission of their sinnes.
Through the tender mercie of our god : whereby the dayespryng from an hygh hath visited us;
To geve lighte to them that sitte in darkenes, and in the shadowe of death : and to guide our fete into the way of peace.
Glory be to the father, &c.
As it was in the beginnyng, &c.
— The Song of Zachary; Benedictus: and Thanksgiving for the performance of God’s promises. Order of Mattins from the Book of Common Prayer (1549).