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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

There are loads of things....

I've been meaning to write about on here, but have yet to get the chance to do so: The 700th Anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, the difference between American and Scottish Independence, the battle for and against the Confederate flag in Virginia, the Seal of Confession Controversy in Louisiana, The Anglican Church allowing female bishops, my own recent adventures involving my SAR state level win, an antique arms show, a friend's graduation party, and a birthday luncheon at The Olive Garden, etc.

    Plus, over at "Behind the Silver Screen", I have been eager to review some films I watched in the last few months (Tangled, Master and Commander, Gettysburg, Last Chance Harvey, The Phantom of the Opera, Brave, The Original Star Wars Trilogy, Prince of Thieves, Princess of Thieves, Excalibur, etc.), and with regards to "Union Jack Chat", I have about six unfinished interviews with British Unionists (who are being real peaches to help out with this project, since I am pretty much an unknown and a foreigner to boot!) and the time crunch is evident with the referendum set for this September 18.

    But unfortunately life has just gotten in the way of my writing endeavors, and I've been especially busy with a private online magazine for Catholic homeschoolers and homeschool graduates, soon to be released to the public for the first time (updates to come)! Also, on an even larger scale, my dad and I will be driving to South Carolina so I can compete in The Sons of the American Revolution National Orations Contest, as the Representative of my native State of Maryland. It's a real privilege...not to mention pressure!

    But anyway, if my loyal readers don't hear much from me from here on out, it's because I'm heading to Dixie this Thursday or Friday (we're thinking about breaking up the 10 hour drive in half) and will be there until Monday or Tuesday. Afterwards, I may just need a little breathing time to relax and rewind, but more than likely I'll also be crazily eager to gush about everyone, so you'll probably hear from me sooner than later! Thanks for always humoring my gushes! ;-)

    I would be especially appreciative for your prayers at this time, as it is all getting a tad stressful. Also, please pray for my dad who is currently going for daily radiation for his returned prostate cancer. So far so good, but he is quite exhausted from it all, and this contest really lands at very bad timing. But as my coach, he and I have both put in too much time into the whole project to back down now. Plus, the SARs would probably tar and feather us! Anyway, we could definitely use my prayers.

    So until my return (when I hope to catch up on my would-be posting)....Chair-ho and God bless!

"South Carolina, here I come...."

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A rare, royal, Catholic book.....

is being reprinted for a new generation by St. Gabriel Communications International. The title and author may surprise you. It is nothing less than "Defense of the Seven Sacraments" by Henry VIII, King of England, the apologetic masterpiece that earned him the title "Defender of the Faith" by Pope Leo X. Yes, all this is simply full of those little ironies that pound home the ultimate tragedy of the division of Christendom, not least that the current Anglican Queen still holds the above-given title.

    In the cases of Luther and Calvin and Zwingli and Knox, I believe misguided zeal and conviction had quite a bit to do with their rebellion against the Church. But I highly doubt anyone can claim (with a straight face at least....unless it's part of a dry British comedy) that Henry VIII was motivated by any deeper sentiments than lust and self-interest when he broke ties with the Holy See. As for those who helped facilitate his usurpation of Church titles and property, most just as drunk with power and didn't care who or what they hurt in their plow to the top. This condemnation falls the strongest of all on the apostate Catholic bishops who bent to king's will or made a point to take control of a diluted state-run church for themselves.

    I do not wish to generalize here. There were certainly very devout Reformation-era Protestants in England, many who wound up burnt at the stake rather than ditching their convictions. While I still believe they were on the wrong track, their evident honesty and courage does them credit. But they were not the ones who split England away from Rome and set the groundwork for The Church of England. No, instead it was a king who beheaded Catholics and burned Protestants for his own selfish ends, a wife-murderer and sex-mongrel who destroyed almost everything he could not dominate.

    His daughter Elizabeth may have been less overtly monstrous, but she was equally self-interested and a vixen when it came to church politics. Basically, she saw the opportunity for consolidating more power for herself through what her father had done and took full advantage of it. Her promised not to "look into the windows of men's souls" was one of the most dishonest stump speeches ever given. Yes, she promised Catholics could "quietly" hold their beliefs -- but without priests. And she knew full well Catholicism couldn't continue without priests, and intended to humor and disarm until the Catholic Church in England was dead.

    And where did Anglicanism take her realm? What became of the state-run religious experiment? To put it bluntly, it ran amuck, and modern Britain is living proof of it. While traditionally Catholic countries have sunk into the swamp of indifference, they at least retain some visual vestiges of a very visual faith. The very things that makes Catholicism hard to kill are her outward signs, the things drummed into us as children that are bound to resurface in later lives. It is, by its very nature, a robust and colorful expression of the human interaction with the divine. Anglicanism, by contrast, was something of a compromise from the start, a little too tame, a little too muted, a little too watered-down. And being a form of rebellion itself, other rebellions against her were sure to ferment and weaken her.

    There are so many different elements of this reality, but a very poignant one is that Britain did become a virtually self-worshiping country when her sturdy religious faith became inextricably linked with the state as opposed to being an independent entity. Hence the rise of jingoism, and the arrogance of imperialism, in a nation in which self-achievement became a god and xenophobia was the norm. Religion literary faded from the front-lines and became, for many, nothing more than a feel-good farce. Again, I don't mean to generalize, and I am more than happy to give praise to fervent Anglicans (and Christians of every stripe) from the past and the present. But even they often admitted they were fighting upstream in a luke-warm bathtub, and I heartily believe they were deceiving themselves by clinging to the old justification that Catholicism as the root of all evil and refusing to embrace the solutions she readily provided.

    Anyway, all these things paved the way for the atheism and agnosticism that has swamped Britain today. It was easy to drift from a luke-warm state-run Church to religious nothingness. And that is the greatest tragedy of Henry VIII's betrayal. But all this, melancholy as it may be, makes me more fascinated by the reprinting of "Defense of the Seven Sacraments", and the bold fact that it is dedicated to our current queen. The pamphlet calls it "a daring contribution to the cause of authentic Christian re-unification in this new millennium marked by rising de-Christianization." The project has been put into motion:

Under the Aegis of the Medieval Patroness of "Merry England" (Mary's Dowry): Our Lady of Walsingham

 Authored by a King:  Henry VIII

Assisted by a Saint:  Sir Thomas More

Acclaimed by a Pope:  Leo X

Dedicated to a Queen:  Elizabeth II

In Memoriam of the Crusader of the 20th Century:  Plinio Correa de Oliveira

To quote the introduction by James Cardinal Gibbons, Archbishop of Baltimore, from the 1907 edition:

"It is rare, inasmuch as it has probably been printed but twice in nearly 200 years. It is a royal book, by reason of its kingly author. It is Catholic, because no Catholic could write a more orthodox treatise on the subjects explained by King Henry VIII. 

    "He expounds such crucial dogmas as the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, indulgences, the mystery of the Real Presence and the Mass, the Sacrament of Confession, divorce, etc. And all this he has unfolded in as Catholic a manner as St. Thomas or St. Francis de Sales, or St. Alphonsus Liguori could have done. 

   "I hope, therefore, that the work may be widely and carefully read, especially in this country, but indeed also in England, the land of its birth."

    While ruminating on all these things, and watching that classic of classics, A Man for All Seasons, I was inspired to write words in tribute to St. Thomas More and all the Catholic Recusants to match the powerful Tudor-era theme. The following is the result:

A Man for All Seasons

Foolish men have prattling tongues
Yet the wisest use no words
Purest songs go unsung
Though the din, though the din
Is heard

Foolish men seek out a name
Yet the wisest hold their own
Set aside without shame
Standing strong, standing strong

What’s the price, what’s the price
Of God’s truth?
What’s the sum, what’s the sum
Of Man’s worth?

Wild winds are blowing, strange seeds are growing here
Long time refusing, harsh voices causing fear

Foolish men cling to their lives
Yet the wisest lay them down
Truth’s the daughter of time
Not the court, not the court
Nor crown

Foolish men will fade away
Yet the wisest never die
Seasons pass, yet they stay
Ever more, ever more

Sir Thomas More bids farewell to his daughter as he is led to his execution