God’s Faith and Church Militant

Ye shall not enter into this our Pilgrimage of Grace for the common wealth but only for the love ye bear to God’s faith and church militant and the maintenance thereof, the preservation of the king’s person, his issue, and the purifying of the nobility and to expulse all villein blood and evil counsellors against the common wealth of the same. And that ye shall not enter into our said pilgrimage for no peculiar private profit to no private person but by counsel of the common wealth nor slay nor murder for no envy but in your hearts to put away all fear for the common wealth. And to take before you the cross of Christ and your heart’s faith to the restitution of the church and to the suppression of heretics’ opinions by the holy content of this book.

Oath of the Honourable Men, 1536.

The Great Action

Nuptial Mass, St. George’s, Sudbury (London), mid-20th century.

“These are such difficult questions,” answered Willis; “must I speak? Such difficult questions,” he continued, rising into a more animated manner, and kindling as he went on; “I mean, people view them so differently: it is so difficult to convey to one person the idea of another. The idea of worship is different in the Catholic Church from the idea of it in your Church; for, in truth, the religions are different. Don’t deceive yourself, my dear Bateman,” he said tenderly, “it is not that ours is your religion carried a little farther,—a little too far, as you would say. No, they differ in kind, not in degree; ours is one religion, yours another. And when the time comes, and come it will, for you, alien as you are now, to submit yourself to the gracious yoke of Christ, then, my dearest Bateman, it will be faith which will enable you to bear the ways and usages of Catholics, which else might perhaps startle you. Else, the habits of years, the associations in your mind of a certain outward behaviour with real inward acts of devotion, might embarrass you, when you had to conform yourself to other habits, and to create for yourself other associations. But this faith, of which I speak, the great gift of God, will enable you in that day to overcome yourself, and to submit, as your judgment, your will, your reason, your affections, so your tastes and likings, to the rule and usage of the Church. Ah, that faith should be necessary in such a matter, and that what is so natural and becoming under the circumstances, should have need of an explanation! I declare, to me,” he said, and he clasped his hands on his knees, and looked forward as if soliloquising,—”to me nothing is so consoling, so piercing, so thrilling, so overcoming, as the Mass, said as it is among us. I could attend Masses for ever and not be tired. It is not a mere form of words,—it is a great action, the greatest action that can be on earth. It is, not the invocation merely, but, if I dare use the word, the evocation of the Eternal. He becomes present on the altar in flesh and blood, before whom angels bow and devils tremble. This is that awful event which is the scope, and is the interpretation, of every part of the solemnity. Words are necessary, but as means, not as ends; they are not mere addresses to the throne of grace, they are instruments of what is far higher, of consecration, of sacrifice. They hurry on as if impatient to fulfil their mission. Quickly they go, the whole is quick; for they are all parts of one integral action. Quickly they go; for they are awful words of sacrifice, they are a work too great to delay upon; as when it was said in the beginning: ‘What thou doest, do quickly’. Quickly they pass; for the Lord Jesus goes with them, as He passed along the lake in the days of His flesh, quickly calling first one and then another. Quickly they pass; because as the lightning which shineth from one part of heaven unto the other, so is the coming of the Son of Man. Quickly they pass; for they are as the words of Moses, when the Lord came down in the cloud, calling on the Name of the Lord as He passed by, ‘the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth’. And as Moses on the mountain, so we too ‘make haste and bow our heads to the earth, and adore’. So we, all around, each in his place, look out for the great Advent, ‘waiting for the moving of the water’. Each in his place, with his own heart, with his own wants, with his own thoughts, with his own intention, with his own prayers, separate but concordant, watching what is going on, watching its progress, uniting in its consummation;—not painfully and hopelessly following a hard form of prayer from beginning to end, but, like a concert of musical instruments, each different, but concurring in a sweet harmony, we take our part with God’s priest, supporting him, yet guided by him. There are little children there, and old men, and simple labourers, and students in seminaries, priests preparing for Mass, priests making their thanksgiving; there are innocent maidens, and there are penitent sinners; but out of these many minds rises one eucharistic hymn, and the great Action is the measure and scope of it. And oh, my dear Bateman,” he added, turning to him, “you ask me whether this is not a formal, unreasonable service—it is wonderful!” he cried, rising up, “quite wonderful. When will these dear good people be enlightened? O Sapientia, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia, O Adonai, O Clavis David et Exspectatio gentium, veni ad salvandum nos, Domine Deus noster.”

— John Henry Newman, Loss and Gain, Part II, Chapter 20.

Quae Sunt Dei

The King’s majesty hath the chief power in this Realm of England, and other of his Dominions, unto whom the chief Government of all Estates of this Realm, whether they be Ecclesiastical or Civil, in all causes doth appertain, and is not, nor ought to be, subject to any foreign jurisdiction … We give not to our Princes the ministering either of God’s Word, or of the Sacraments … but that only prerogative, which we see to have been given always to all Godly Princes in holy Scriptures by God himself; that is, that they should rule all estates and degrees committed to their charge by God, whether they be Ecclesiastical or Temporal, and restrain with the civil sword the stubborn and evildoer … The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this Realm of England.

Article XXXVII.

But we would say a word more on the history of this anomaly. The origin of the Anglican jurisdiction, like the origin of the Anglican order, was the accident of Queen Elizabeth’s illegitimacy. Cardinal Pole had, in Queen Mary’s reign, absolved the nation from schism and heresy, and restored it to the communion of the Church. But Queen Elizabeth, compelled by her illegitimacy, tore the nation once more from Catholic unity; risking her own soul, and the souls of her subjects, in order that she might reign forty years. So reluctant was the nation to return to schism, that a packed parliament could only secure a small majority of three in favor of the apostate oath of royal supremacy; all the bishops, the universities, the whole body of Catholic clergy, and all the laity who dared to speak their mind, protesting against the hideous impiety. Thus it was by act of parliament alone that the ancient faith, the ancient hierarchy, the ancient liturgy were swept away, and the present doctrines, rites, and ceremonies of the new Church were established as parliamentarily sound. It is just here that jurisdiction and holy order seem to contend for the mastery in confusion. Six of Elizabeth’s theologians being consulted as to the validity of the new orders, gave it as their opinion that “in a case of such urgent necessity the queen possessed the power of supplying every defect through the plenitude of her ecclesiastical authority as head of the Church.” In other words, these Protestant theologians maintained the perfectly original theory that true jurisdiction being wanting for the new order, a false jurisdiction must be pronounced true. The new order, they said, is certainly equivocal; we admit that it is not in the least like Catholic order; but, as we have thrown over the pontiff’s jurisdiction, which could alone decide the question authoritatively, one alternative alone remains to us: we must affirm that the queen’s jurisdiction is more divine than the pontiff’s jurisdiction; so that the queen can henceforth teach the pontiff, rebuke the pontiff, even anathematize him, “in the plenitude of her ecclesiastical authority as head of the Church.” And if it be replied, “Yes, this was the attitude of Elizabeth, but so far only as the Church of England was concerned,” our answer is: You first create a new national church, in the teeth of the opposition of the whole nation, episcopal, sacerdotal, and lay—excepting only the small crowd of powerful worldlings who had become enriched by the spoils of the Catholic Church—and having done this, you say that the new jurisdiction remained as restricted as the new church. This may be perfectly true as a political fact, but it is none the less an apostacy and an absurdity. It is an apostacy because you make the fount of all spiritual jurisdiction to be insular, civil, and lay; and it is an absurdity because you affirm of the lesser that it can rule, and ought to rule, the greater. You take from God the things which are God’s, and you give them to any turbulent Caesar. You make a civil and a lay power to sit in judgment on a divine sacrament (for not even Henry VIII., before or after his excommunication, denied that holy order was a divine sacrament), and you give to an island queen the power to “supply all deficiencies in the acts done by them” (her bishops), “or in the person or state, or faculty of any of them; such being the necessity of the case and the urgency of the time”; a power which never was claimed by any pontiff, and which every pontiff would have repudiated as an impiety. Thus you invert every process of common sense. You admit that it must belong to a divinely appointed jurisdiction to decide on faith, worship, and holy order, and yet affirm that it belongs to a queen or to a parliament to create that same divine jurisdiction whenever the “urgency of the time or the necessity of the case” seems to call for such spasmodic creation. “Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are God’s” is the new Anglican reading of the divine command. To pontifically define what is divine jurisdiction, and then to more than pontifically create it, was that Anglican assumption which accompanied the creation of a new church, a new faith, a new religion. Well might Montalembert say: “The Church of England was one of the most awful forms of sin and pride that has ever appeared in the world.” All other forms of heresy had been based on the assumption that divine authority had misinterpreted a divine truth; but Elizabethanism was based on the assumption that the civil power could create divine authority, and could then license this divine authority to teach whatever truths were most agreeable to its tastes or its ease.

A. F. Marshall, B. A. (Oxon.), The Correlation of Order and Jurisdiction, The American Catholic Quarterly Review, Vol. XX. April, 1895. No. 78.

Blindness of the Ungodly

Oremus et pro perfidis Judæis: ut Deus et Dominus noster auferat velamen de cordibus eorum; ut et ipsi agnoscant Jesum Christum, Dominum nostrum. (Non respondetur ‘Amen’, nec dicitur ‘Oremus’, aut ‘Flectamus genua’, aut ‘Levate’, sed statim dicitur:) Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui etiam judaicam perfidiam a tua misericordia non repellis: exaudi preces nostras, quas pro illius populi obcæcatione deferimus; ut, agnita veritatis tuæ luce, quæ Christus est, a suis tenebris eruantur. Per eundem Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus: per omnia sæcula sæculorum. Amen.

Oratio pro Judæis, Missale Romanum (as the text and rubrics stood before 1955).

In view of the multitudes from all nations who have become zealous believers in these books, it is laughably absurd to tell us that it is impossible to persuade a Gentile to learn the Christian faith from Jewish books. Indeed, it is a great confirmation of our faith that such important testimony is borne by enemies. The believing Gentiles cannot suppose these testimonies to Christ to be recent forgeries; for they find them in books held sacred for so many ages by those who crucified Christ, and still regarded with the highest veneration by those who every day blaspheme Christ. If the prophecies of Christ were the production of the preachers of Christ, we might suspect their genuineness. But now the preacher expounds the text of the blasphemer. In this way the Most High God orders the blindness of the ungodly for the profit of the saint, in His righteous government bringing good out of evil, that those who by their own choice live wickedly may be, in His just judgment, made the instruments of His will. So, lest those that were to preach Christ to the world should be thought to have forged the prophecies which speak of Christ as to be born, to work miracles, to suffer unjustly, to die, to rise again, to ascend to heaven, to publish the gospel of eternal life among all nations, the unbelief of the Jews has been made of signal benefit to us; so that those who do not receive in their heart for their own good these truths, carry, in their hands for our benefit the writings in which these truths are contained. And the unbelief of the Jews increases rather than lessens the authority of the books, for this blindness is itself foretold. They testify to the truth by their not understanding it. By not understanding the books which predict that they would not understand, they prove these books to be true.

St. Augustine, Contra Faustum Manichæum, xvi. 21.

After Holiness the People Yearn

The religious tendencies of the American people are manifest. They cling to Protestantism in spite of its shifting doctrines and shambling organizations because it offers them the sovereignty of Jesus Christ for their soul’s salvation. According to the last census there are about thirteen millions of Protestant church members, and a moderate estimate of “adherents” would not fall short of a number three times as large.
Nothing can account for this condition but the prevalence of a powerful religious sentiment, dominant, almost universal, among our non-Catholic countrymen — a determination to secure eternal happiness by obedience to the Gospel of Christ. The entire nation is eager for religion. Earnest and virtuous men and women can win adherence everywhere to any form of Christian belief.

It is not mainly by family traditions, nor by social influences that the Protestant churches are kept up. It is by downright appeals to the religious sense of the people and by honest personal choice. The more worldly attractions are but adjuncts to the deep stirrings of religious aspirations.

It is pitiful to see how this fertile soil is wasted. Apart from the errors of the common run of sects, the most grotesque delusions gather followers if advocated by earnest men.

[…]

Having repudiated polygamy the Mormons enter the field with no small chance of success. If this preposterous and till recently unclean sect, can win converts in a typical American community, what cannot the Church of the living God do? And why do the Mormons succeed? Not because of their errors, but because of their earnestness, and because of the fragments of religious truth they have. “Holiness to the Lord!” is their motto, and after holiness the people yearn. Only brigands or monsters are drawn together by untruth or vice. Our fellow-countrymen are allured to the various sects by promise of union with God, made to them by deeply earnest missionaries — union with God by pardon of sin and the inner guidance of the Holy Spirit. Many of them, indeed, if not most of them, change from one erroneous view of the great problems of life to another, and keep onchanging. But there is every reason to believe that the Catholic Church with its unity of truth, its perfect rest of soul in the pardon of sin, its twofold union with God in the outer gift of the Holy Eucharist and inner touch of the Spirit, would win and hold them all. But this fulness of truth must be made known to them as their own sects have been — urged, pressed, thrust upon them by every missionary medium, and chiefly by that most resistless of all influences, earnest and devout men and women.

Everywhere in the rural districts (and this article does not refer to the larger cities) one hears of the missionaries of the various Protestant denominations. They hold meetings in the school-houses, they invite all to attend, and they plead for the love of Christ like men on fire. Nothing draws like Christ preached by a zealous man or woman. Then these rural “evangelists” go to the houses of the people, crave leave to pray with them and to read the Bible to them. The result is an increase of membership in the nearest church and often the formation of a new congregation. They organize the society, a minister is engaged, the country church is built, and so they continue for some years. But after a time, their children, if not themselves, are captured in the same way by a rival denomination, a Baptist missionary, a Methodist, a Campbellite, a Seventh-day Adventist, a Mormon, while you and I, brethren of the Apostolic Clergy, stand by and are content to laugh at the grotesque antics of our deluded brethren, as they leap up for the fruit of the tree of life and grasp only the leaves. Would that all of us loved the fruit as earnestly as many of them love the leaves.

— Walter Elliott, American Ecclesiastical Review,
Vol. I (XI.), September 1894, no. 3.

To Alter and Subvert God’s True Religion

Bust-length grisaille copy of portrait of William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, by Sir Anthony van Dyck; Dulwich Picture Gallery, London.
Bust-length grisaille copy of portrait of William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, by Sir Anthony van Dyck; Dulwich Picture Gallery, London.

That he hath traiterously endeavoured to alter and subvert God’s true Religion, by Law established in this Realm, and instead thereof to set up Popish Superstition and Idolatry. And to that end, hath declared and maintained in Speeches, and printed Books, divers Popish Doctrines and Opinions, contrary to the Articles of Religion establish’d by Law. He hath urged and enjoined divers Popish and Superstitious Ceremonies without any warrant of Law, and hath cruelly persecuted those who have opposed the same, by corporal Punishments and Imprisonments, and most unjustly vexed others, who refused to conform thereunto, by Ecclesiastical Censures of Excommunication, Suspension, Deprivation, and Degradation, contrary to the Laws of this Kingdom.

Articles of the Commons assembled in Parliament, in maintenance of their Accusation against William Laud Archbishop of Canterbury, whereby he stands charged with High Treason; presented and carried up to the Lords, by Mr. J. Pym, Feb. 26. 1640.

At Another Time and in Other Circumstances

Detail of portrait of Blessed John Henry Newman by Sir John Everett Millais; National Portrait Gallery, London.
Detail of portrait of Blessed John Henry Newman by Sir John Everett Millais; National Portrait Gallery, London.

[T]he Church of England has been the instrument of Providence in conferring great benefits on me; had I been born in Dissent, perhaps I should never have been baptized; had I been born an English Presbyterian, perhaps I should never have known our Lord’s divinity; had I not come to Oxford, perhaps I never should have heard of the visible Church, or of Tradition, or other Catholic doctrines. And as I have received so much good from the Anglican Establishment itself, can I have the heart, or rather the want of charity, considering that it does for so many others, what it has done for me, to wish to see it overthrown? I have no such wish while it is what it is, and while we are so small a body. Not for its own sake, but for the sake of the many congregations to which it ministers, I will do nothing against it. While Catholics are so weak in England, it is doing our work; and, though it does us harm in a measure, at present the balance is in our favour. What our duty would be at another time and in other circumstances, supposing, for instance, the Establishment lost its dogmatic faith, or at least did not preach it, is another matter altogether. In secular history we read of hostile nations having long truces, and renewing them from time to time, and that seems to be the position which the Catholic Church may fairly take up at present in relation to the Anglican Establishment.

John Henry Newman, Apologia Pro Vita Sua, Appendix “Answer in Detail to Mr. Kingsley’s Accusations,” no. 3.