Tuesday 30 August 2016

Margaret Clitherow, Anne Line and Margaret Ward, 30th August

Margaret Middleton was born in 1556, one of five children of Jane and Thomas Middleton a respected businessman and Sheriff of York in 1564. She married John Clitherow, a wealthy butcher of the Shambles, York and a chamberlain of the city, in 1571 and bore him three children. In 1574 Margaret converted to Roman Catholicism and despite being of the Anglican Church her husband was supportive of  her, because his brother William was a roman catholic priest; John paid her fines for not attending church services and stood by her even when she was arrested and served three periods in the York prison. Margaret had risked  her life by offering hospitality to catholic priests, Her oldest son, Henry, attended the English college in Rheims to train for the priesthood. In March 1586 the Clitherow house was searched and a priest hole for the hiding of clergy was discovered.  Margaret was arrested and came before the York Assizes.  She was found guilty of harboring roman catholic priests and sentenced to death; Margaret died by being crushed  on the Ouse Bridge on Good Friday 1586.

This day is also shared by two other English martyrs: Anne Lines and Margaret Ward.  Margaret Ward's date of birth is unknown, but she was born in Congleton, Cheshire. She was lived in London in service to a noble woman. Margaret heard about the ill treatment of a catholic priest, Fr. Richard Watson in Bridewell prison. Having obtained permission to visit him which she did on several occassions. Although searched she became known and the guards were lax in their duties.  This enabled her to smuggle a rope into Fr. Watson which he then used to escape.  Fr. Watson escaped, but Roche the boatman who helped him escape was arrested along with Margaret Wardy visitor, was also arrested. After being tortured by hanging by her hands for eight days, during which she refused to disclose any priests identities, Margaret Ward was hanged at Newgate on 30th August 1588 along with five others.

Anne Line is believed to have been born Alice Higham, the eldest daughter of the Puritan William Higham of Jenkyn Maldon. She was born around the early 1560s, and at some point, probably in the early 1580s, converted to Catholicism with her brother William, and Roger Line her husband. Among Catholics the married "Alice" became known as "Anne" Line: presumably a name she took on her conversion. After the death of her husband Roger Anne became very active in sheltering clandestine Catholic priests which was illegal in the reign of Elizabeth I. Finally arrested on 2nd February 1601 and she was condemned to death and executed for harbouring a priest on 27th February 1601.
Margaret Clitherow, Anne Line and Margaret Ward are numbered among the 40 English Martyrs canonized by Pope Paul VI on 25th October 1970

Monday 29 August 2016

Beheading of John the Baptist, 29th August

Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife,  because John had been telling him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.”  Though Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded him as a prophet.  But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and she pleased Herod  so much that he promised on oath to grant her whatever she might ask.  Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.”  The king was grieved, yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he commanded it to be given;  he sent and had John beheaded in the prison.  The head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, who brought it to her mother.  His disciples came and took the body and buried it; then they went and told Jesus. (Matt 14:3-12)   This event described in the Gospel according to Matthew is the basis for todays fest day of the Beheading of John the Baptist.
 John is almost like a hinge between the Old and New testaments; he is rooted in the traditions of the prophets of Israel but prepares the way for and witnesses to Jesus, the Christ.  He heralds Jesus with the words "Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world". (John 1:29). John also speaks on behalf of the Old Testament upholding the Jewish Law which Herod had broken on two counts: he had divorced his wife with no good reason and he had take his brothers wife as his own wife. 
So we see that in Herodias' eyes he was a threat to here position as Herod's wife and when the birthday party came she sent in her instrument for getting her way; her daughter (according to Josephus she is called Salome) who dances for the King; Herod, besotted by the dancing and makes her a promise with the result that she asks for the head of John the Baptist on a dish and so we have the scene depicted by so many artists including Caravaggio and Hendrick ert Bruggen

Sunday 28 August 2016

Kerala Catholic Chalaincy Pilgrimage, 28 August

Today the Friars, Aylesford again resounded with the sound of music and singing as the Kerala Catholic Chaplaincy gathered for their annual pilgrimage.  As the people gathered the piazza became a se of bright colours and joyful faces.  Adults and children had all brought their happiness with them to this day and  as the 10.15 Mass ended there were already a large number of people were waiting to welcome Bishop Christudas, the new auxiliary in the Archdiocese of Trivandrum, Kerala, who then led the gathering service and celebrated the Mass with the pilgrims.  Following a procession around the Rosary Way with the statue of Our Lady carried aloft and reverenced with music and bells there was Benediction and then a closing liturgy before leaving for home.  It was good to see the Kerala pilgrims again and we look forward to a return visit.


Friday 26 August 2016

Jacques Retouret and comapnions, 26th August.

Jacques Retouret was born into a merchant family in the city of Limoges; Jacques received a good education and was great reader. At the age of fifteen he joined the Carmelites of the Ancient Observance and after a novitiate he went on to study and was ordained a priest.   Jacques was as a popular preacher and although he felt called to be an active preacher around the local area  his health forced him to limit his mission work.

In 1790  the French Revolutionary authorities passed a law requiring all priests to swear allegiance to the civil constitution, which would effectively remove them from the authority of, and allegiance to, Rome. Many refused, and in 1791 the government began deporting them to French Guyana. Eight hundred and twenty seven  priests and religious, among them, following his arrest at the Carmelite house in Limoges, was Jacques Retouret O. Carm. were imprisoned on hulks (old ships no longer sea-worthy and used for storage, jails, hospitals, etc.) at Rochefort, France to await exile, most on the Deux-AssociĆ©s and the Washington which had previously been used to house slaves or prisoners. Because the British Navy was blockading the port of Rochefort the prisoner were left on the hulks; they were basically ignored and left to death die with little food and water, very poor sanitation, and no medical help. Five hundred and forty two of them died before those still alive were released in February 1795. Many of the survivors wrote about their experiences and about those who died and though these documents it has been possible to positively identify sixty four of these Martyrs of the Hulks of Rochefort; among them Jacques Retouret, Priest and Martyr.  Jacques, along with sixty three others, was beatified  by Pope John Paul II on 1st October 1995.  There memorial is 26th August.

Thursday 25 August 2016

Blessed Dominic Barberi, 26 August

Dominic Barberi (22 June 1792 - 27 August 1849) was born near Viterbo to a poor family of Italian farmers.  His parents died while Dominic was still a small boy, and he was raised by his maternal uncle Bartolomeo. As a boy he was employed to take care of sheep but was taught to write by a Capuchin Priest and learned to read from a country lad of his own age; although he read all the books he could obtain, he had no regular education.  Dominic Barberi was one of the few men of his locality not chosen for military conscription and he felt it was a sign from God that he should enter a religious community. He was received into the Congregation of the Passion, in 1814 after the re-establishment of the religious orders in the Papal States Initially Dominic was accepted as a lay brother, but once his extraordinary gifts were revealed his status was changed to that of a clerical novice. He was ordained priest on 1 March 1818, teaching philosophy and theology to the students of the congregation.  It was during this time that he produced his many theological and philosophical works. In the summer of 1830 he was asked to aid an English convert to Catholicism, Sir Henry Trelawney. Through this meeting Dominic made the acquaintance of a number of influential English Catholics; the first step in the long journey leading to England with his hopes for the bringing back of England to the Roman Catholic Faith

In January 1840 negotiations were completed for a Passionist foundation at Ere in Belgium; the superiors, in spite of his age and ill health, sent Dominic to be superior of the Belgian mission. In September Dominic received a letter from Bishop Wiseman, the head of the English mission, inviting Dominic to make a Passionist foundation in England at Aston Hall. Dominic, with the permission of the Passionist General, visited the site in November 1840 and finally set out for England in October 1841 where the reception of the Passionists was less than welcoming. Opposition to Dominic was also present here where on his journeys to the Mass centre; local youths would throw rocks as Dominic, though two youths took to the decision to become Catholics when they were greatly edified to see Dominic kiss each rock that hit him and place it in his pocket.  One of his arguments with the Protestant clergy was: “Jesus says "This is my body" you say "No. It is not his body!" Who then am I to believe? I prefer to believe Jesus Christ."

In October 1841 Dominic visited Littlemore where Newman made his confession to him. Newman relates in his "Apologia" of how Dominic arrived soaked from the rain and as he was drying himself by the fire Newman knelt and asked to be received into the Catholic Church.  This event is marked by a sculpture in the Catholic Church of Blessed Dominic Barberi at Littlemore.(See photo) Two of Newman's companions at Littlemore were also received and Dominic celebrated Mass for them the following morning.  Barberi is best remembered for his part in Newman's conversion, but is also commemorated for his work in the efforts to return England to the Catholic faith in the 19th century. In his years in England Dominic established three churches, several chapels and preached innumerable missions and received hundreds of converts.

Barberi was beatified by Pope Paul VI in 1963, during the Second Vatican Council.


Wednesday 24 August 2016

Saint Bartholomew, 24th August 2016

Bartholomew was one of the Twelve Apostles  of Jesus. He has been identified with Nathaniel who appears in the Gospel of John as being introduced to Christ by Philip who would also become an apostle.  He was born at Cana in Galilee[4] and is listed among the Twelve Apostles of Jesus in the three Synoptic gospels: Matthew, Mark and Luke; he appears as one of the witnesses of the Ascension; on each occasion however he is named in the company of Philip.

Eusebius of Caesarea's Ecclesiastical History and Saint Jerome attest that after the Ascension, Bartholomew went on a missionary tour to India, where he left behind a copy of the Gospel of Matthew.  
Popular tradition and legends say that Bartholomew preached the Gospel in India, and then went to Greater Armenia.  It is in Armenia that Bartholomew is said to have been martyred, traditionally by being flayed whilst still alive. He is often depicted with his flayed skin over his arm.  At the site of his martyrdom a prominent Armenian Monastery of Saint Bartholomew was built in what is now South East Turkey.

Bartholomew’s body was in the City of Dura-Europa thanks to a gift of the Emperor Anastasius in 507, while further relics were in Benevento, having been translated from Lipari as well as in Rome at the Basilica San Bartolomeo all’Isola.  Frankfurt Cathedral was given a part of his skull and Canterbury Cathedral an arm.

Monday 22 August 2016

Queenship of Mary 22nd August 2016

Today the Church celebrates the Octave of the Assumption; a memorial which invokes Mary as Queen. The two celebrations of the Assumption and today’s memorial show us Mary as Queen but also as handmaid two aspects that are united in her person.  If we look at these two in an ‘earthly’ way we would have to say that Mary was first ‘handmaid’; her fiat at the Annunciation and then queen after her Assumption. If , however, we accept that for God everything is heavenly ‘present’ then it was always was, is now, and ever shall be part of God’s plan of salvation that Mary be Handmaid and Queen. In the Second Vatican Council Constitution on the Church we read that Mary was “taken up body and soul into heavenly glory…and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son” (Lumen Gentium, 59).  This ‘taken up’ implies that unlike her Son who died and rose again from the dead, Mary’s life on earth was not death but her assumption, her being taken up into heavenly glory where she is ‘exalted as Queen over all things’.
Initial from the Ranworth Antiphonale
(circa 1400)
So we can see that The Assumption and todays celebration of The Queenship of Mary are so inter-twined as to be on celebration as is always the way with liturgical octaves.