30 November 1554

Arms of Reginald Cardinal Pole.
Arms of Reginald Cardinal Pole.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, Which with His most precious blood hath redeemed and washed us from all our sins and iniquities, that He might purchase unto Himself a glorious spouse without spot or wrinkle, and the Father hath appointed Head over all His Church, He by His mercy absolve you. And we, by apostolic authority given unto us by the most holy lord Pope Julius III., His vicegerent here on earth, do absolve and deliver you, and every of you, with the whole realm and dominions thereof, from all heresy and schism, and from all and every judgment, censures, and pains, for that cause incurred; and, also, we do restore you again unto the unity of our mother the holy Church, as in our letters more plainly it shall appear: in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

Absolution restoring the Realm of England to Catholic unity, proclaimed 30 November 1554, the Queen, the King, and the Papal Legate being all present in the House of Lords.

A Fictitious Unity

The reason for this [the failure of an alliance between Eastern Schismatics and the Anglican Church — Ed.] is that national particularism chills and kills the buds of the Catholic ideal of the Church of Christ. Unity outside of Rome means for Catholics a unity without a vital bond of union, a fictitious unity which fosters in its heart a solvent of the supernatural compactness of the Body of Christ, to the spreading of the petty dissensions of a most narrow nationalism. And, at the close of this paper, it will perhaps be to the purpose to quote the beautiful saying of William Palmer to a Russian lady concerning the disastrous role of nationalism in Christianity: “Nationality in religion has been our ruin; it has made us all but apostatize from the true faith, and we in England are struggling now to crawl out of that pit into which I hope you may never fall deeper than you have fallen already.”

F. A. Palmieri, O. S. A., Anglican Ordinations in Modern Russian Theology, The American Quarterly Catholic Review, Volume 41 (January-October, 1916).

Not Half Enough Preached

Fra Filippo Lippi, Coronation of the Virgin (1441-1447), tempera on panel; Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.
Fra Filippo Lippi, Coronation of the Virgin (1441-1447), tempera on panel; Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.

But what is the remedy that is wanted? What is the remedy indicated by God Himself? If we may rely on the disclosure of the saints, it is an immense increase of devotion to the Blessed Lady; but, remember, nothing short of an immense one. Here in England, Mary is not half enough preached. Devotion to her is low and thin and poor. It is frightened out of its wits by the sneers of heresy. It is always invoking human respect and carnal prudence, wishing to make Mary so little of a Mary that Protestants may feel at ease about her. Its ignorance of theology makes it unsubstantial and unworthy. It is not the prominent characteristic of our religion which it ought to be. It has no faith in itself. Hence it is that Jesus is not loved, that heretics are not converted, that the Church is not exalted; that souls which might be saints wither and dwindle; that the Sacraments are not rightly frequented, or souls enthusiastically evangelized. Jesus is obscured because Mary is kept in the background. Thousands of souls perish because Mary is withheld from them. It is the miserable, unworthy shadow which we call our devotion to the Blessed Virgin that is the cause of all these wants and blights, these evils and omissions and declines. Yet, if we are to believe the revelations of the saints, God is pressing for a greater, a wider, a stronger, quite another devotion to His Blessed Mother.

Fr. Frederick William Faber, Preface to Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort’s A Treatise on the True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, London: Burns & Lambert, 1863.

Novum et Æternum Testamentum

Peter Gertner, Crucifixion, 1537; Walters Art Museum.
Peter Gertner, Crucifixion, 1537; Walters Art Museum.

And first of all, by the death of our Redeemer, the New Testament took the place of the Old Law which had been abolished; then the Law of Christ together with its mysteries, enactments, institutions, and sacred rites was ratified for the whole world in the blood of Jesus Christ. For, while our Divine Saviour was preaching in a restricted area — He was not sent but to the sheep that were lost of the House of Israel — the Law and the Gospel were together in force; but on the gibbet of His death Jesus made void the Law with its decrees fastened the handwriting of the Old Testament to the Cross, establishing the New Testament in His blood shed for the whole human race. “To such an extent, then,” says St. Leo the Great, speaking of the Cross of our Lord, “was there effected a transfer from the Law to the Gospel, from the Synagogue to the Church, from the many sacrifices to one Victim, that, as Our Lord expired, that mystical veil which shut off the innermost part of the temple and its sacred secret was rent violently from top to bottom.”

Pius XII, Encyclical Letter Mystici corporis Christi, no. 29 (29 June 1942).

No Dogmatic Authority; Contrary to the Faith

The secretary for the Unity of Christians said on 18 November 1964 in the Council Hall about Nostra Aetate: “As to the character of the declaration, the secretariat does not want to write a dogmatic declaration on non-Christian religions, but, rather, practical and pastoral norms.” Nostrae Aetate does not have any dogmatic authority, and thus one cannot demand from anyone to recognize this declaration as being dogmatic. This declaration can only be understood in the light of tradition and of the continuous Magisterium. For example, there exists today, unfortunately, the view — contrary to the Catholic Faith — that there is a salvific path independent of Christ and His Church. That has also been officially confirmed last of all by the Congregation for the Faith itself in its declaration, Dominus Jesus. Therefore, any interpretation of Nostrae Aetate which goes into this direction is fully unfounded and has to be rejected.

Archbishop Guido Pozzo, Secretary to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, interview in Die Zeit (32/2016).

Christ Alone Has the Power

Christ might indeed have chosen to select another form of government, and to institute the visible Church either as a democracy or as an aristocracy. Either of these is a conceivable and a possible form of government, and either is compatible with the existence of a governed society. Both of them have actually existed as forms of government in the civil order. The practical question, however, and with that alone we have concern, is not as to what Christ might have done, but as to what Christ actually did.

Christ instituted the visible Church neither as an aristocracy, nor as a democracy, but as a monarchy.

In an aristocracy ruling power is vested in several different men, who are regarded as being the best men, as chiefs or elders or otherwise. The power of each of these is an equal power. It is equally exercised by all of them, although it is exercised by all as if all were one, and formed one moral person, one ruling body. Hence in an aristocracy, the consent of a majority or, what is equivalent thereto, the prevailing might of a considerable minority, is required and suffices for exercise of ruling power. Christ did not institute the visible Church as an aristocracy, for Christ did not give to all of His Apostles an equal power, or to all of them supreme power.

In a democracy both legislative power and executive power rest with the people, and are exercised by the representatives and ministers of the people. It is self government. The people govern themselves. Christ did not institute the visible Church as a democracy, for over His Church Christ set rulers.

In a constitutional or representative government, which is a monarchy tempered with democracy, legislative power rests with the representatives of the people, and executive power with the king and his ministers. Christ did not institute the visible Church as a constitutional government, for He did not give to the Christian people, or to the representatives of the Christian people, the power of making the laws by which the Christian society was to be governed.

In a monarchy one person and one alone is in possession of supreme power, and thus has plenitude of power. One person has direct and immediate rule over all subjects within his kingdom, both singly and collectively, whether as individuals or as a body. It was as a monarchy that Christ instituted the visible Church. He so far tempered, however, this monarchy with aristocracy that it should not be in the power of the supreme ruler to abolish those inferior rulers whose power was equally of Christ’s institution, and therefore of Divine right. The supreme ruler was nevertheless not to be merely the ministerial head of the inferior rulers, and to exercise a power which flowed to him from them. He was to be in possession of supreme power, and of the plenitude of power, as his own power.

Pontificate and Episcopate are therefore equally of Divine right, as instituted by Christ. Both belong to the intestinal constitution of the visible Church. Neither of them can be abolished, nor can either cease to exist, if that Church is to endure in its identity as instituted by Christ. Pontificate without Episcopate would not constitute that Church; still less would Episcopate without Pontificate.

The kingdoms of a world the fashion of which passeth away may be altered into aristocracies, and so cease to be kingdoms. Aristocracies may be altered into democracies or into kingdoms, and so cease to be aristocracies, in the one case as in the other. Democracies may develop into aristocracies, and these again into monarchies, and in either case they cease to be democracies. With all such changes there is a change of intestinal constitution. There is radical change, and the society, in its altered constitution, has ceased to be that society which it was in its beginning. In a visible society of Divine institution, which is to endure in the living oneness of its identity to the end of time, the alteration of its constitution is an absolute impossibility. For such an alteration the Pontiff with his supreme power is in the plenitude of his power as powerless as are the Bishops; and the whole body of the Bishops is as powerless as is the Christian people. Christ alone has power to alter the constitution of that visible Church which the same Christ instituted. All save Christ must say Non possumus, We are destitute of power.

— William Humphrey, S. J., Urbs et Orbis, London: Thos. Baker, 1899.

Morality, Chivalry, and the Sense of Truth

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.

— Ronald Knox, A Spiritual Aeneid, London, 1918.

Catonic Pleasure in the Defeated Cause

Figure representing "The South" atop the Confederate Monument at Arlington National Cemetery.
Figure representing “The South” atop the Confederate Monument at Arlington National Cemetery.

On the other hand, Catholicism as a factor in history was very real and very abominable to me. Protestantism has, I suppose, been instilled into English people of education not so much by those infant catechisms in which an earlier generation delighted, nor even by the solidly one-sided picture which is still given of the Reformation in all early histories, as by a single book—Westward Ho! Nothing else binds up quite so successfully the cause of England’s greatness with her loss of the Catholic Faith. I never read this book till much later, but I read many containing the same moral, and I came to assume, as all normal non-Catholic boys assume, that because the Reformation was successful it was therefore right,

Treason doth never prosper. What’s the reason? For, if it prosper, none dare call it treason—

There was never a more piercing analysis of English historical methods. The losing side is wrong, because it lost; William of Normandy was a patriot, Philip of Spain a tyrant. The Reformation may be cherished by its devotees because the fires of Smithfield failed; it is recommended to the hearts of Englishmen because the hangings at Tyburn succeeded. For, as a race, we pay our principal homage to the fait accompli.

I should say, then, that my historical views were as much coloured on this subject as those of most English boys—not more so, in spite of family traditions. But there is one exception, not indeed in the elementary histories, but in the novels of adventure, to this rule that the losing cause is wrong. A referendum in almost any collection of small boys would produce a vote in favour of, not against, the Stuart dynasty. Chiefly, I suppose, owing to Scott and Stevenson, this saving glimpse of the gloriousness of failure has been left to keep us all from pure materialism. In my own family, the “Cavalier” and “Roundhead” parties were equally divided at first; I had embraced the latter cause chiefly, I think, because my hair hung straight, and I envied my brother’s curls. At a sensational moment, for what reason I cannot remember, I played traitor to the standards of Dunbar and threw in my lot with the monarchy.

This fin de siècle loyalty never quite left me. Not, indeed, that I was ever in a serious sense a political Jacobite; when I argued at the Oxford Union that the Stuarts were the pioneers of Socialism I was conscious of paradox, and no one was more surprised than myself when, in commenting kindly on my conversion, the Daily News, my own breakfast organ, described me as “a Tory of the Tories,” and the Westminster Gazette speculated whether I was anxious to put Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria on the throne. But I did naturally join, at Oxford, the ranks of those Anglicans who look upon the White King as a martyr for episcopal religion; and of the effect of this atmosphere I shall have more to say later. But the thing went deeper than that: my sympathy for the lost cause of the Stuarts, combined with the sympathy I learned at Eton for “the sorrowful King” whose name closes the Lancastrian dynasty, did predispose me to an attitude of mind which is for reversing the judgments of history: I have always taken a Catonic pleasure in the defeated cause, and set my head against the stream. I am not here priding myself on the chivalry of such an instinct; I am only suggesting that it is open for anybody to find here the cause, or the first symptom, of that readiness to defend the indefensible with which critics have frequently credited me.

— Ronald Knox, A Spiritual Aeneid, London, 1918.

Pivot of Justice and Kingdom of Peace

Cod. Bruchsal 1, Bl. 1v, Evangelistar von Speyer, c. 1220, Badische Landesbibliothek, Karlsruhe, Germany.
Cod. Bruchsal 1, Bl. 1v, Evangelistar von Speyer, c. 1220, Badische Landesbibliothek, Karlsruhe, Germany.

But peace is the ‘tranquillity of order, divine, national, social, and individual, which ensures to everyone his place and gives him what is due to him, putting the glory of God above all duties and making the brotherly service of all derive from His love.’ And such is the human condition and the order of Divine Providence — without its having been possible hitherto to find a substitute for it — that war, though it is one of the most terrible scourges of mankind, yet sometimes it is the heroic and only remedy for replacing things on the centre of the pivot of justice and bringing them back to the Kingdom of Peace. Therefore the Church, even while she is the daughter of the Prince of Peace, blesses the emblems of war, has founded the military Orders, and has organized the Crusades against the enemies of the Faith.

Joint Letter of the Spanish Bishops to the Bishops of the Whole World Concerning the War in Spain, July 1st, 1937.

Dragon, Cross, and Banners

Quarundam Ecclesiarum consuetudinis est etiam Draconem deferre primis duobus diebus ante Crucem, & Vexillum, cum longa, & inflata cauda: tertio vero die post Crucem, & Vexilla, cum cauda depressa. Hic est Diabolus, qui nos per tria tempora, ante legem, sub lege, sub gratia fallit, aut fallere cupit. In primis duobus erat quasi Dominus Orbis, ideoque Princeps, vel Deus Mundi vocatur, inde est quod in primis duobus diebus, cum inflata cauda procedit, in tempore vero gratiæ per Christum victus fuit, nec audet regnare patenter, sed homines seducit latenter. Inde est quod in ultimo die sequitur cum cauda depressa.

Ordo Officiorum Ecclesiae Senensis, 222.

Thirteen Hundred Years

U716.4. Pascha comotatur in Eoa ciuitate.

Annals of Ulster.

A Pulverised Society

The starting point is only the love of God. There is no other solution. We can love our neighbor as God has loved us, just because God has loved us first. So, when we speak of love, we are not referring to an abstract and passing sentimentalism, but of a lasting and eternal love. Love is a term so abused and disfigured in contemporary society that we should all have at least a little bit of discretion in pronouncing the word. Today we are confronted with a type of compassionate technicality, according to which in the name of love we come to the point of killing each other — through euthanasia or abortion — so as to free the other from his suffering! Do you realize what an abominable point we are approaching? We use the words love, sentiment, affection — to justify what is an act of death! Instead, as Benedict XVI wrote in the Encyclical “Deus Caritas Est”: “Love is “divine” because it comes from God and unites us to God; through this unifying process it makes us a “we” which transcends our divisions and makes us one, until in the end God is “all in all” (1 Cor 15:28)”. But love of God and love of neighbor are inseparable: the Church herself is the fruit of a love story. Love is demanding! To truly love is to love even unto death — even death on a cross. Modern man is discouraged by the journey that awaits him because he does not understand the reason why he lives: he needs high goals, yearns for high goals because his goal is holiness. A mountaineer aims for the peak of the mountain because he knows that there he will find peace and refreshment whereas, if he were to listen to the voices of those who discourage him, he would fall into the rift. The fact is that nowadays it seems easier not to commit to greater vocations: we live in a pulverized society, in a culture where personal desires become rights. Man must understand that holiness is a path to follow every day, offering to God the value of the things that we do: in the family, at work, in social and community life. This is what the great saints of the Church teach us. And nothing could be more beautiful.

Robert Cardinal Sarah in interview with Izabella Parowicz (http://www.pch24.pl).