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.

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.

It Is Not My Hand or Seal

Detail of portrait of St. John Fisher by Hans Holbein the Younger.
Detail of portrait of St. John Fisher by Hans Holbein the Younger.

“I thought it good therefore in relief of the weighty burden of scrupulous conscience, and the quiet estate of this noble realm, to attempt the law therein, and whether I might take another wife in case that my first copulation with this gentlewoman were not lawful; which I intend not for any carnal concupiscence, ne for any displeasure or mislike of the queen’s person or age, with whom I could be as well content to continue during my life, if our marriage may stand with God’s laws, as with any woman alive; in which point consisteth all this doubt that we go now about to try by the learned wisdom and judgment of you our prelates and pastors of this realm here assembled for that purpose; to whose conscience and judgment I have committed the charge according to the which (God willing), we will be right well contented to submit ourself, to obey the same for our part. Wherein after I once perceived my conscience wounded with the doubtful case herein, I moved first this matter in confession to you, my Lord of Lincoln, my ghostly father. And for as much as then yourself were in some doubt to give me counsel, moved me to ask farther counsel of all you my lords; wherein I moved you first my Lord of Canterbury, axing your license, (for as much [as] you were our metropolitan) to put this matter in question; and so I did of all you my lords, to the which ye have all granted by writing under all your seals, the which I have here to be showed.” “That is truth if it please your highness,” quoth the Bishop of Canterbury, “I doubt not but all my brethren here present will affirm the same.” “No, Sir, not I,” quoth the Bishop of Rochester, “ye have not my consent thereto.” “No! ha’ the!” quoth the king, “look here upon this, is not this your hand and seal?” and showed him the instrument with seals. “No forsooth, Sire,” quoth the Bishop of Rochester, “it is not my hand nor seal.” To that quoth the king to my Lord of Canterbury, “Sir, how say ye, is it not his hand and seal?” “Yes, Sir,” quoth my Lord of Canterbury. “That is not so,” quoth the Bishop of Rochester, “for indeed you were in hand with me to have both my hand and seal, as other of my lords had already done; but then I said to you, that I would never consent to no such act, for it were much against my conscience; nor my hand and seal should never be seen at any such instrument, God willing, with much more matter touching the same communication between us.” “You say truth,” quoth the Bishop of Canterbury, “such words ye said unto me; but at the last ye were fully persuaded that I should for you subscribe your name, and put to a seal myself, and ye would allow the same.” “All which words and matter,” quoth the Bishop of Rochester, “under your correction my lord, and supportation of this noble audience, there is no thing more untrue.” “Well, well,” quoth the king, “it shall make no matter; we will not stand with you in argument herein, for you are but one man.” And with that the court was adjourned until the next day of this session.

— George Cavendish, Thomas Wolsey, Late Cardinall, his Lyffe and Deathe.

 

Error, Gruge, and Murmuracyon

A Protestant Allegory (c.1538-44) by Girolamo da Treviso; oil on panel; 67.9 x 84.4 cm; in the Royal Collection by 1547 (Henry VIII inventory: ‘a table of the bushopp of Rome and the four Evangelists casting stones upon him’).
A Protestant Allegory (c.1538-44) by Girolamo da Treviso; oil on panel; 67.9 x 84.4 cm; in the Royal Collection by 1547 (Henry VIII inventory: ‘a table of the bushopp of Rome and the four Evangelists casting stones upon him’).

By the KING.
HENRY R.

RIGHT trusty and welbiloued cousin we grete you well. And wher it is commen to our knowlaige that sundrie persons, aswell religious as seculer priests and curats in their peroches and diverse places within this our realme, do dailly asmoche as in them is, set forthe and extolle the iurisdiction and auctoritie of the bishop of Rome, otherwyse called pope, sowing their sediciouse, pestylent, and false doctryne, praying for him in the pulpit, and makyng hym a God, to the greate decyte, illuding and seducyng of our subgietts, bryngyng them into errors, sedicyon, and euyll opynyons, more preferryng the power, lawes, and iurisdictyon of the said bishop of Rome, then the most holly lawes and precepts of Almighty God. We therfore myndyng not only to prouide for an vnitie and quietnes to be had and contynued among our said subgietts, but also greatly couetyng and desyryng them to be brought to a perfectyon and knawlege of the mere veritie and truth, and no longer to be seduced, nor blynded, with any suche superstitiouse and false doctryne of any erthly vsurper of Goddes lawes, will therfore and command you, that wher and whensoever ye shall fynde, apperceyue, know, or heretell, of any such sedicious personnes, that in such wise do spreade, teche and preache, or otherwise set forth any suche opynyons and perniciouse doctryne; to the exaltatyon of the power of the bishop of Rome, bryngyng therby our subgietts into error, gruge, and murmuracyon; that ye indelaydly doo apprehend and take them, or cause them to be apprehended and taken, and so commytted to ward, there to remaine without bayle or mayneprise, vntill vpon your aduertisement thereof vnto vs or our councell ye shall know our further pleasure in that behalfe. Yeuen vndre our signet, at our manor of Grenwich the xvii day of Aprill.

To our right trustie and welbiloued cousin and counsellor Therle of Sussex.

— quoted in John Weever’s Ancient Funerall Monuments.

Two Religions

Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre at Ecône.
Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre at Ecône.

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.

Wherewith She is Honoured and Worshipped

Portrait of Henry VIII by Hans Holbein the Younger, c. 1537; oil on panel, 11" x 7.9"; Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum.
Portrait of Henry VIII by Hans Holbein the Younger, c. 1537; oil on panel, 11″ x 7.9″; Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum.

[We have expounded the] declaration of the Ave Maria, as a prayer containing a joyful rehearsal, and magnifying of God in the work of the incarnation of Christ, which is the ground of our salvation, wherein the blessed virgin our lady, for the abundance of grace wherewith God endued her, is also with this remembrance honoured and worshipped.

— The Necessary Doctrine and Erudition for Any Christian Man, also known as the King’s Book,
Preface attributed to Henry VIII, 1543.

Except the Three Sacred Fingers

"Sacrosancta Lateranensis ecclesia omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput" ("Most Holy Lateran Church, of all the churches in the city and the world, the mother and head.") Inscription on the façade of the Papal Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, Rome.
“Sacrosancta Lateranensis ecclesia omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput” (“Most Holy Lateran Church, of all the churches in the city and the world, the mother and head.”) Inscription on the façade of the Papal Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, Rome.

What Alanus Copus Nicholas Harpsfield and Father Henry Fitzsimons, of Dublin, have related about John Travers, an Irish doctor of sacred theology, who fell in Henry’s or Elizabeth’s time (I have not definitely ascertained which) is worth repeating. This man wrote something against the English heresy, in which he maintained the jurisdiction and authority of the Pope. Being arraigned for this before the king’s court, and questioned by the judge on the matter, he fearlessly replied — “With these fingers,” said he, holding out the thumb, index, and middle fingers, of his right hand, “those were written by me, and for this deed in so good and holy a cause I neither am nor will be sorry.” Thereupon being condemned to death, amongst other atrocious punishments inflicted, that glorious hand was cut off by the executioner and thrown into the fire and burnt, except the three sacred fingers by which he had effected those writings, and which the flames, — however piled on and stirred up, could not consume.

— Chapters towards a History of Ireland in the reign of Elizabeth, Chapter II,
Philip O’Sullivan Beare.