Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Old Mass Explained

“Je suis protestant… I am a Protestant and I would like you to tell me – what is the Mass? I go to it every day but understand nothing”. – “Yes, I have seen you at the back of the chapel. I thought you were a Jew”. – “No, I am a Protestant. I have attended our Protestant services. They are very beautiful: they speak constantly there about Jesus”. – “That’s it”, replied Hippolyte, “there they talk about Jesus. They are surely very beautiful. But it is not the Mass. You see, the Mass IS Jesus”. He hesitated a moment, then continued: “You see, God was made flesh in order to redeem us on the cross. At the Last Supper, He left us His Body and His Blood under the appearances of bread and wine, as pledges of our Redemption, That is the Mass: the Real Presence of Jesus Christ. Before such an act, there is nothing to do or to say. One can only be silent. I would love to join you at the back of the chapel”.
— quoted in R. Michael McGrade, The Rejected Priest

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Monsieur Dileut's Story

My father and mother were both French. So am I, although I was born in London. My elder sister was born in Paris but I scarcely remember her. She died quite young of leukemia. My younger brother was born in London like me but was killed in the war, fighting for the Free French.

My father was the London agent for a Parisian manufacturer of costume jewelry. It did not make him rich but we lacked for nothing. We had our own freehold house in Islington. In those days it was not fashionable. I took over my father's business about fifteen years ago.

Father was a practicing Catholic. It was he who taught us our catechism and took us to Mass each Sunday. We thought that he was, perhaps, a bit scrupulous or Jansenistic as he never went to Communion. However, he always went on retreat with the Jesuits during the first week in Lent, when we presumed that he made his Easter Duties. He was fairly strict but immensely gentle. I do not remember my father ever being angry.

Mother was very different. She was a good mother to us and I don't want to say anything against her. But she was bitterly anti-Catholic and anti-clerical. Poor dear, she was a bitter woman altogether. She subscribed to several anti-clerical French rags. She used to cut out any particularly scandalous tit-bits and put them on Father's plate for breakfast. He always read them carefully, thanked Mother for keeping him informed and stuck them in an album. I have found it. It's the thick album on the bottom shelf over there.

Mother died in October 1964 without seeing a priest. She was buried civilly as she had wished. Father immediately sold the house. I was married, of course, and was already living in my present house in Bayswater. Father simply vanished. Once he sent me a postcard from Paris but with no address. That was all. A year later, in November 1965, he sent me a charming letter to say that he had built himself this bungalow at Chalfont and hoped that I, wife and children would call on him on Christmas afternoon as he could not give us a meal.

We turned up. You may have noticed that this bungalow has a surprisingly large hall for so small a house. To save us the trouble of trying the doors, he pointed out that they were locked! It was the same when we came at Easter and All Saints – la Toussaint is a big feast in France. In fact I never saw the inside of this bungalow until after my Father's death. While we were there for the Toussaint he invited us back for Christmas. He said that he hoped to have something very important to tell us.

However, three weeks later, on November 23rd, the police rang up. It was fairly early in the morning as I had not yet gone to the office. The milkman had reported that the milk had not been collected at the bungalow for a couple of days and there was no answer to the bell. The police had forced the door and had found my father dead. They would like me to see the body as they had found it before they did anything else. I shot out to Chalfont straight away, fortunately without Mary, my wife. I called at the police station. A very amiable sergeant accompanied me. For the first time I penetrated the bungalow beyond the hall. The sergeant unlocked that little door over there and switched on the lights. As you probably noticed, the room has no window. It was a tiny chapel. Crouched over a prie dieu in front of the altar, fully vested in chasuble and the rest, was a priest. It was the corpse of my father.

You can imagine my sentiments better than I can describe them.

I shall not bore you with the details except to say that he had finished Mass when he died. The veil was on the chalice, the corporal was in the burse, the cruets were empty and the candles had been blown out. He must have felt too weak to unvest, have gone straight to the prie dieu and died.

Later I found on his desk a thick envelope addressed to me. The top page was a very affectionate letter postdated the Christmas which never came. The rest was a precis of his life. It was doubtless what he had referred to on All Saints' Day. The precis is not without interest.

My father was born in 1883 and was therefore eighty-three when he died. His real name was du Teil, of which Dileut is an anagram. His family was traditional and very devout. From earliest childhood he, like his parents, took it for granted that he would become a priest.

Already at St. Sulpice – his seminary – his piety had veered toward activism. He says that he was not strictly a "modernist" but was deeply affected by the works of Laberthonnière. He kept this to himself so as not to be expelled.

He was ordained just before his twenty-fourth birthday at Pentecost, 1907. The decree Lamentabili against modernism was issued in July that same year. A little later the works of his hero, Laberthonnière, were placed on the Index.

With the fervour of a young man he wrote articles attacking the whole policy of Pius X in Naudet's Justice Sociale and Dabry's La Vie Catholique. Both were condemned in the following year, 1908.

He then joined up with Marc Sagnier and Le Sillon. By this time he thought of himself as a "christian Socialist" rather than a "socialist Christian."

When Le Sillon was condemned in 1910 he took to writing under diverse pseudonyms virulent attacks against Pius X in the non-Catholic press. Some of these were eventually pinned down to him. Upon his refusal to retract he was defrocked and excommunicated in 1913.

He lived by his pen until he was called up for the war. Incidentally, all those reviews in the book-case over there contain his articles. The rest of the books must form the most complete collection of modernist and Sillonist literature in private hands. It had been stored in Paris. Doubtless we had not been allowed in the bungalow in case we saw it.

He married mother, civilly of course, in 1916. She was an ex-Trappistine nun. They had met at a sort of club for defrocked priests in Paris, rue des Écoles. My sister was born the next year.

By the end of the war and after a year at Verdun, Loisy, Laberthonnière, Dabry, even Marc Sagnier all seemed very far away. He was also helped by his sergeant, who was a distinguished Jesuit. He regained the piety of his childhood. But he was excommunicated and had a wife and daughter.

On demobilization he found that he could not live in Paris. Thanks to a cousin he got his job in London. I was born there in 1920 and my brother in 1923.

When mother died father set about rehabilitating himself as a priest. It took endless time. Paris, his diocese of origin, passed the buck to Aylesbury, his diocese of domicile, and vice versa. I have found all the correspondence. I shall not bore you with the details. Suffice it to say that the delay was not caused by difficulties over his excommunication and marriage. It was caused by my father's own obstinacy. Indeed, he was as stubborn as he was gentle.

He had been excommunicated under two principal headings: firstly for maintaining modernist propositions; secondly for using the vernacular and innovating in the rite of the Mass. Father refused to accept the lifting of excommunication unless he abjured its causes: he insisted that he take an anti-modernist oath at the hands of the bishop and that he celebrate Mass according to the rite in use prior to his excommunication.

As you can imagine, there was much pooh-poohing. The anti-modernist oath had been abolished and the immemorial Mass was undergoing monthly changes. Finally, however, in view of father's age, the bishop of Aylesbury had the courtesy to give in. He came to Chalfont and administered the oath in front of two witnesses on Wednesday, November 16th [1966].

Knowing my father as I do, I am certain that he would have prepared himself scrupulously for his second "First Mass." He would not have presumed to jump to the altar, but waited for the Lord's Day. (Besides, only one host was missing from a box of fifty.) The Mass after which he died must have been the first he had said in fifty-three years. God rest his soul!

—Bryan Houghton, Judith's Marriage, 1987, pp. 197–200.

On Fr. Martin D'Arcy, S.J.

Edmund did not answer straight away. When he did it was in a gentler voice. "Poor Father Martin, the most refined thinker the society has produced this century. They leave him alone if he keeps his mouth shut but jeer at him if he dares to open it. Dear Father Martin, his suppression is even more callous than that of Beaumont. I have not seen him since we returned from Rome."
— Bryan Houghton, Judith's Marriage, 1987, p. 185.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Thanks to the council

The real trouble lay deeper. Up till now the Dower House had contained a wonderfully united family. The cause and focal point of this unity had been its religion. The marriage had been due to it, as also the existence of Richard and George. The years of continence and the attempt at the "safe period" would have been impossible without a religious motive. Above all, their reciprocal trust and esteem was grounded in their common religion. Richard, too, had so far grown up with the undivided example of his parents. That was all wonderful and gave rise to the undefinable sentiment called happiness.

Thanks to the council – and Judith had not the slightest doubt where to lay the blame – all that had vanished. The Dower House contained a divided family. Religion was no longer the cause of unity but of dissent. And this must be happening in hundreds of thousands of families throughout the world. Doubtless each family had different problems but all had been held together by the internal, intrinsic grip of their religion. As Judith meditated on these things she could foresee that Catholic decrees of nullity would soon be as common as non-Catholic divorces. That brought her to a halt. Would she and Edmund get divorced? It was unthinkable! No, since the council, nothing was unthinkable. Anyway, for the sake of an illusory ecumenism – or so it was said – the council had shattered the only true unity in the world, that of the Catholic Faith. And along with that unity all lesser, dependent unities had been cracked if not broken asunder.

— Bryan Houghton, Judith's Marriage, 1987, pp. 181–182.

Crucifix and Microphone

Aren't you coming? she asked.

No, I cannot stand it, was the reply. The crucifix is no longer there and I fail to see why I should adore a microphone. I shall go straight to the Treasury. For the first time at Holy Cross Judith went to Mass alone. It hurt her.

— Bryan Houghton, Judith's Marriage, 1987, p. 178.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Altars Do Furnish a Room

"Thanks! Yes, that will do fine." Mr. Brack hesitated for a moment and then continued. "I take it, Mister, that you are a Catholic. Perhaps you can explain something to me. You see, I'm a Jew and don't understand. I've always had a good line in religious art: I like it myself. Well, up to about three years ago Catholic fathers were among my best customers. Prices ran high. You could not buy a decent ivory crucifix for love nor money. Well, I've got drawers full of 'em. I give between £20 and £30 for them to take 'em off the market. You see that magnificent Louis XV sideboard over there? Well, it isn't a sideboard; it's an altar. I sold it to a reverend about ten years ago for £500 when that was a lot of money. Six months ago the same reverend came back and begged me to give him £200 for it. I did. I've mucked it up a bit to make it a sideboard and shall set it for £3,000. What puzzles me is that in most cases it's the same father. Take your reverend at Walhamford. Why do you think he contacted me to get rid of the stuff in his church? Because a few years ago he bought that off me."

"That" was an embroidery of Our Lady after a Sassoferrato in the Louvre. It was not Edmund's taste but the workmanship was astonishing. Mr. Brack continued:

"When he sold the church stuff, he threw that in with it and asked me to give him a good price for it. 'Look here, Reverend,' I said, 'I can't. Nobody wants Madonnas now, not even you reverends. As a special favour I'll give you a tenner for it, but I'll probably have to chuck it in with the lot.' That's your father at Walthamford. They used to buy expensively and now they chuck it out. Later they'll be blaming the bloody Jews for making money out of them."

"My dear Mr. Brack, it is as much a mystery to me as it is to you. All I can say is that the Catholic clergy is suffering from collective lunacy. Incidentally, I shall buy the embroidery of the Madonna as well."

No you won't. I'll give it to you as permanent evidence of the collective lunacy."

— Bryan Houghton, Judith's Marriage, 1987, pp. 176–177.

A Vision of the Modern Church

In the middle of the church was a trestle table with a white oil-cloth covering on which stood a microphone. The chairs surrounded the trestle table except on the sanctuary side, where a wide passage was left containing two cheap-jack lecterns surmounted by more microphones. The ex-sanctuary, which was raised, contained Mr. and Mrs. Butterworth, more microphones and some odd bodies who turned out to form the choir. The Blessed Sacrament was nowhere apparent.
— Bryan Houghton, Judith's Marriage, 1987, p. 172.

Another Pope—Another Audience?

His Holiness then moved on to the Far Easterners. One of the two old men did the talking, the other nodding assent. The young man was the interpreter. Judith was deeply struck by both of the old gentlemen. Refinement and dignity must still exist in the East although difficult to locate in the West. Unfortunately, she could not hear. The translator spoke very quickly in a soft as well as a low-pitched voice. It was clear that things were not going too well. She could hear odd words of Paul VI: trust, obedience, peace. The nodder started to cry. The nodder fell on his knees and gesticulated with his wonderfully neat oriental hands. The translator gave up. Testastorta pulled the Pope's elbow. The orientals knelt as he gave them his blessing but the nodder was up like a bullet and said in broken French: "Take this! At least take this!" He produced a document. It was too late; the Pope and Testastorta had already turned to the Roughams. But the flunky took the document.

The Pope and the monsignor came forward to about halfway between the easterners and the Roughams. They stopped and Judith could hear Testastorta say to the Pope: "They are of no interest – sono degli integristis inglesi – they are English traditionalists." The Pope took another step forward but Testastorta was too quick for him. He left the Pope and came straight at Edmund: "The Holy Father is behind schedule, but I shall see to it that he is made acquainted with your observations. Please kneel for the papal blessing." They obeyed. He waved to the Pope to give his blessing. He obeyed. Pope, monsignor and flunky disappeared through the door to the Rougham's right.

So that was that.

— Bryan Houghton, Judith's Marriage, 1987, pp. 168–169.

From the canon's moan

"Yes, Mrs. Rougham, I feel deeply indebted to my parishioners. God has given me so much through them. It is not for my own sake that I refuse the new outlook. It is for theirs. I simply do not accept that they have been wrong merely because they have been poor, stupid, uncritical, childish. It is my unshakable belief that these are precisely the reasons they are right. Rather than criticize them even by implication I should prefer to die…"
— Bryan Houghton, Judith's Marriage, 1987, pp. 162–163.

"Ah! Mrs. Rougham, the confessions of children are quite wonderful."

"You know, it is hard at my time of life to see all my work undone, my hopes shattered, my loves derided. You were right, Mr. Rougham, not to let me build that school. It would not have been my crowning achievement but my crowning disappointment. I have built three schools in my time. I visited one of them last month. The spirit was gone. At ten the children do not know their prayers and catechism. There is no school Mass or school confessions. Ah! Mrs. Rougham, the confessions of children are quite wonderful. Even if they tell fibs in the confessional, it is somehow beautifully transparent. The tragedy is less that children no longer confess than that priests no longer hear them. The priests could learn so much…"
— Bryan Houghton, Judith's Marriage, 1987, p. 162.

On Raising Doubts

If Edmund knew what was right and wrong without a special commission, how came it that the Pope did not? Anyway, until the commission reported and the Pope pronounced, would there not be doubt in a million minds? The Church existed to solve doubts. Had she the right to raise them?
— Bryan Houghton, Judith's Marriage, 1987, p. 153.

Episcopal Porn

But what most astonished and depressed Edmund was what he called episcopal porn: the constant harping on sex. Marriage was all the rage, with married deacons and hopefully married priests. But there was much doubt as to what marriage was. The more vociferous bishops were quite sure that it had nothing to do with the procreation of children but was "the expression of conjugal love." And it was made quite clear what that meant: contraception would not merely be allowed but would be virtuous if it helped to preserve "conjugal love." Edmund wondered if pederastic and lesbian marriages would be encouraged. Homosexuals showed lots of conjugal love and did not even require the pill. Indeed, they were helping to curb the population explosion. That was bad enough, but what depressed Edmund most was not what Cardinals Léger and Suenens might say on the subject but that the propaganda in favor of episcopal porn appeared to be orchestrated by an Englishman, a gentleman and a Jesuit: one Archbishop Thomas Roberts, retired archbishop of Bombay, whose Mass he had served many times as a boy at Beaumont. Later he had often met him socially. That was perhaps his trouble: he was too social.
— Bryan Houghton, Judith's Marriage, 1987, p. 151.

"I too know what it is to obey authority"

Edmund was a cradle Catholic and Jesuit-educated to boot. He was inured to ecclesiastical discipline. He was like the centurion in Matthew VIII: "I too know what it is to obey authority; I have soldiers under me, and I say, 'go,' to one man, and he goes, or, 'come,' to another,and he comes." That was all very well so long as the officers themselves did not question the system. But that was precisely what the bishops were doing during the third session from September 15th to November 21st. The haggling over their own collegiality, over the sources of revelation, over the nature of the Church, was upon analysis no more than questioning authority: that of the Church, of the Pope, of divine revelation. If the centurion did not obey, there was no reason why the soldier should. Like any other chain, the chain of command is no stronger than its weakest link.
— Bryan Houghton, Judith's Marriage, 1987, p. 151.

His Eyes Are on the Congregation

As she drove home, Judith could not help feeling how tragic it was that the priest had lost his anonymity. Of old, his personality and mannerisms simply had not mattered. In future they would matter enormously. It was all right for her, Judith, because she could drive round and pick her own priest. In which connection, thank God for old Slattery! But not so Reverend Mother; her daily Mass was indissolubly tied to enduring Father Mallon's idiosyncrasies.

But it was not only the priest who had lost his anonymity, so had the congregation. The faithful were meant to be up and doing, to participate, to express their personalities and be conscious of the community around them. Of old, the Mass provided almost the only time and place in all the world where one could get away from oneself, get lost. The expressions "lost in prayer," "lost in wonder," "lost in adoration" and the like are perfectly accurate. Of old, distractions had been the problem. Now, distraction was organized and continuous. The problem had become how to get lost.

It was not only lost of personal anonymity which worried Judith but that of the congregation as an entity. How vividly she remembered her first Mass at St. Aloysius's over seven years ago: the boisterous family with the kids with sticky sweets; the rosaries and The Garden of the soul; its utter theocentricity focused on the the Real Presence. It did not matter what the congregation did or who composed it. It would not have mattered had there been none at all. The congregation was as anonymous as Father McEnery. Its astonishing unity did not spring from human activity but from human surrender.

But the anonymity of the congregation had vanished completely. If Judith could complain of Father Mallon's idiosyncrasies, he must feel even more justified in complaining about his congregation. Nuns, parents, children, strays, were they playing their part properly? Luckily, he was facing them to make sure they did. But who was that fellow who did not follow the gym? Why could not people speak up? Was that woman shouting on purpose? Who the hell was bashing a rosary against the bench? And so on. Judith began to feel sorry for Father Mallon. Yes, poor Father Mallon; it was not really his fault. Anyway, she would put up with him for Reverend Mother's sake. She would turn up as usual on Saturday.

— Bryan Houghton, Judith's Marriage, 1987, pp. 136–137.

There Was a Revolution

The Constitution on the Liturgy seemed to Judith a perfectly reasonable document. Latin and the Immemorial Mass were preserved; a few harmless changes were permitted. In January 1964 Paul VI issued a motu proprio fixing the parts of the Mass to be said in the vernacular: the introductory psalm, the epistle, the Gospel and the like. At Holy Cross, old Canon Slattery stuck to the Latin, however. At the convent, Father Mallon used English, but it was perfectly tolerable once a week.

In September 1964 a new instruction was issued allowing the whole of Mass in the vernacular apart from the canon. It was to come into force on the first Sunday in Advent, November 29th. Judith knew nothing about it as she had stopped taking Catholic papers in the previous June. Canon Slattery had not mentioned it from the pulpit. Reverend Mother had not thought of telling her about it.

On Saturday, December 5th, Judith went to Mass as usual at the convent. She could not believe her eyes or ears. The altar had been moved forward by four or five feet. The tabernacle had been shifted and placed in a corner to the left on a tall, rickety Victorian stand with spindly legs such as convents seem to collect. It had previously supported an aspidistra. There was no crucifix. In its place stood a microphone. It looked like a serpent coming up from the bowels of the earth and rearing its ugly head to hiss at the priest.

Father Mallon tripped in. Judith had always avoided looking at him. But there he was, exactly where the Blessed Sacrament had been. To Judith's eyes the sight was unpleasant: the carefully pomaded hair, the protruding eyes with their condescending stare, the large sniffling nose, the precise little mouth with its deprecatory twist, the podgy hands.

It is common experience that the less pleasant the personality the more its possessor wishes to impose it. Father Mallon was no exception. All his life he must have been waiting for the new liturgy. In the name of God everybody would have to take a good look at him. All his movements had become significant, whether he waved his silk bandanna about before he blew his nose or made genteel movements with his little finger as he poured the wine into the chalice. It was all didactic, teaching common people how they should behave. That was bad enough, but the sound was infinitely worse. Judith could close her eyes, but she could not close her ears. The microphone seemed to add to the refeenement of his voice. Then, Father Mallon had a nervous sniff. It had not mattered in the old Mass as you could not see the twitch of nose and lip. Now, not only could the twitch be seen but the sniff came over the microphone high, clear, insistent; it compelled attention. He blew his nose, too, in a high tenor which made the microphone crackle. And the refeened voice over all!

After Mass Judith went to have her usual cup of tea with Reverend Mother.

"Good heavens, Reverend Mother," she exclaimed, "has Father Mallon gone crazy?"

"Didn't you know, my dear? Since Sunday last that is how Mass is to be said."

"What! A special decree from the council that all Catholics must look at Father Mallon?"

"That is more or less it, my dear. Of course, Father Mallon is a very clever and well-informed priest. There is nothing about turning the altar round, and the canon should be said in Latin. But Father knows an expert in Rome who says that is what is coming, so he might as well do it now. His lordship the bishop is enthusiastic."

"Well, it's ghastly," said Judith.

— Bryan Houghton, Judith's Marriage, 1987, pp. 134–135.

"That most wonderful of inventions, the silent Low Mass"

It was still 1963 and 1964. That most wonderful of inventions, the silent Low Mass, really did recharge the battered battery of the human soul. Canon Slattery said it particularly anonymously. His own personality never intruded in the least. He was merely the animator of a set of vestments and manipulator of the sacred tools. Even the parts of the Mass which were said aloud did not bear the idiosyncrasy of his intonation; they were the distant rumble of God's thunder.
— Bryan Houghton, Judith's Marriage, 1987, p. 126.

An Ecumenical Service

Although himself a staunch Baptist, the Right Honorable the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Mrs. Barker, who have been staying with Brigadier and Mrs. Rougham at Rougham Castle, attended Divine Service at the Roman Catholic chapel of St. Gregory at Rougham on Sunday morning as an ecumenical gesture. The Service was conducted by the Reverend Paul Cromer, priest in charge of the Roman Catholic mission. The Chancellor read the Epistle, which was taken from the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. At the offertory Mrs. Barker gave an impressive rendering of Gounod's Ave Maria which was much appreciated by the large congregation. The sermon was preached by Monsignor Philip Pailey, representing the Roman Catholic bishop of Hertford. His text was: 'Outside the Church There is no Salvation,' from which, with an eloquence too rarely heard in our churches today, he showed that all men are members of the same church, 'since all are pilgrims in search of the Absolute Truth we call God.' In a fine outburst of rhetoric he exclaimed: "For too long the Roman Church has proclaimed that she alone is in possession of the whole Truth; that Truth alone has rights; that error has none. At last we begin to realize the dignity of the human person, which transcends accidents of right and wrong. At last we have learned – in the words of the great political thinker Gabriel Monod – 'that the essence of liberty is the liberty of error.'"
— Bryan Houghton, Judith's Marriage, 1987, p. 110.

On Vatican II

I shall judge the present council by one simple statistic: the rise or fall in priestly vocations.
— Bryan Houghton, Judith's Marriage, 1987, p. 106.

Archaeology and Tradition

Archaeology is the study of what time has rejected, whereas tradition is precisely what time has preserved.
— Bryan Houghton, Judith's Marriage, 1987, p. 105.

A Social or a Political Church?

"And what of the Church, Father? She is ceasing to be social in order to become political. She no longer wants to convert; she wants to liberate. She no longer tries to deal with the infinite moral problems of individuals; she preaches the easier alternative of political revolution. Her ministers have abandoned the fag and fug of the confessional for the excitement of the hustings and the aerials of the media. You no longer seem interested in the internal cohesion of your group – the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church – in the infallible moral cohesion which alone can withstand the inviolability of the state. No, you want to swamp the Immaculate Bride in the rising flood of human pollution."
— Bryan Houghton, Judith's Marriage, 1987, p. 103.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Justice vs. Charity

I suppose you hate the Sisters of Charity. You would like to found the Sisters of Justice.
— Bryan Houghton, Judith's Marriage, 1987, p. 93.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Is the Pope Catholic?

Edmund roared with laughter. "Of course, if that sort of thing happened, every Catholic would have to protest; but it's impossible. You seem to forget that the Pope and bishops are just as much Catholics as you and I."

"That's the trouble, Edmund: it is not I who forget it, but they. Also, I do not say that these things will come about by positive legislation; they will come about by failure to enforce any condemnation. However, for the moment you have set my mind at rest. Only, instead of the Catholic press, I shall read P. G. Wodehouse and the Bible. They won't annoy me."

— Bryan Houghton, Judith's Marriage, 1987, p. 86.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

This could be said of many churches today

If the exterior is impressive, the interior used to be positively beautiful.
— Bryan Houghton, Judith's Marriage, 1987, p. 71.

Friday, December 12, 2014

An audience with Pope Pius XII

As the Roughams were a distinguished recusant family which had produced a martyr in the 16th century, a cardinal in the 17th, a venerable in the 18th and, moreover, since Edmund and Judith were newlyweds, a private audience with the Pope had been arranged for them. Unfortunately, they had not known this when they left England, and had not brought the proper clothes – a long-sleeved black evening dress for Judith and tails for Edmund, even though the audience was for 10 o'clock in the morning. They had to hire them. With a tuck here and there, Judith's dress was vaguely presentable, but Edmund's tails were green with age, shiny from cleaning and cut to encompass some important gentleman of more than twice Edmund's girth.

"The Pope must think it awfully funny," said Edmund, "every day to see different faces emerging out of the identical kit."

"I suppose," Judith answered, "he looks upon the laity much as we look upon the priest. It's the same old vestment no matter who's inside."

Anyway, they got there on time and were duly placed in a small antechamber, scarcely more than forty feet wide each way, though which the Pope was to pass. They did not have to wait long. At a sign from a rotund monsignor they fell on their knees. Pope Pius XII appeared.

He was not as tall as he looked in his photographs, but quite as emaciated. The eyes were black and burning. Was it zeal, was it anguish? He had a trick of looking through you, not focusing on you at all. The fine, aquiline nose was not unlike what Edmund's might become at his age. But the mouth! At rest it seemed shapeless and melancholic, almost fish-like, but it could twist into any shape and would suddenly give a smile as innocent as a baby's. Lastly the hands, the most beautiful Judith had ever seen. Edmund had fine, aristocratic hands, but they were not as beautiful as the Pope's.

He came up to them where they knelt, fingering some little cards which doubtless gave him details about the people to whom he was giving audience. His English was quite fluent although it had an unexpected American accent.

"Mr. and Mrs. Rougham. You come from an old recusant family." His eyes unfocused and he looked into eternity. "Your family must have suffered much. You have the Beato Gregorio among your ancestors. It is easy to bear suffering oneself, from moment to moment. But to suffer in your wife, in your children, hopelessly, from generation to generation, this the English Catholics have done. They are dear to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to ours.

"Mrs. Rougham, you are a newlywed. We shall say a special prayer that you are fruitful in children who can bear suffering, who do not flinch at the Cross. Men have stopped looking at the Cross. Priests will turn it out of their churches. You look at it. Teach your children to look at it.

"The persecution of Catholics is finished in England, by the mercy of God, but to suffering there is no end. You will find the enemy within the Church, not without. We see it coming from our exalted position on the summit of the Rock. We can see far from where we stand. You will suffer more than your ancestors, Mr. Rougham, but they must remain an example to you. There is only one nobility in man: suffering nobly borne."

He suddenly broke off, refocused on them and gave them his most beautiful baby smile. "Is there anything special you would like to ask of us?"

Of course they had prepared nothing. They had even forgotten the rosary they had especially bought to be blessed. But Judith was terribly moved and said quite spontaneously: "Yes, Holy Father! You spoke of the Cross. At home we have a crucifix which as been in the family since before the Reformation. In front of it each generation of Roughams has prayed. In a strange way it was the cause of my conversion. I want you to bless it; really bless it. It isn't physically here, but that is what we want you to bless. It has baby angels catching the Precious Blood from the sacred wounds."

The Pope's mouth twitched into a series of strange shapes. He unfocused. There was an appreciable pause. Then: "We do bless it. The arms of that crucifix will ever be outstretched in suffering and in mercy over you. The mercy of God is so incomprehensible to man that it makes us suffer. Yet mercy it is. The angels' little cups of mercy have to be drunk to the dregs in suffering. You will do it. I know you (he dropped into the singular) although I have never seen you before. And you have all my affection, although I shall never see you again. For your part, whenever you are at home, we (he reverted to the plural) command you once day to fall in front of your cross for just one minute in silent adoration, and we grant you a plenary indulgence at the hour of death.

"Now we impart our Apostolic Blessing…"

He laid his hands lightly on their heads. The baby-smile reappeared as he said: "Goodbye, Mr. and Mrs. Rougham – and teach your children to cling to the Cross." He passed into the next antechamber.

Judith and Edmund picked themselves up. They had been kneeling the whole time. They joined hands and waited in silence until they were escorted out of the Vatican into the brilliant midday sun of a cold and clear February day.

"Gosh, what an experience!" said Edmund, which was all either of them could say.

— Bryan Houghton, Judith's Marriage, 1987, pp. 56–59.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The trouble is not always religion

The tragedy of the break between Judith and her father was heightened by the fact that both thought religion was at the bottom of it. It was not. Judith could have put up with any amount of criticism and jeering. What had made her revolt was the implied accusation against Edmund. The precise reason why she loved him was because of the innocence of their relationship. And, by the way, yes: she did love him. It was her father who finally convinced her of the fact.

It was exactly the same with Sir George. After he had let off steam and been as rude as he knew how, he would inevitably had accepted the fact that his daughter, whom he genuinely loved, had become a Papist.

— Bryan Houghton, Judith's Marriage, 1987, pp. 45–46.

Catholicism is still hateable

She tried to interrupt a time or two: "But Daddy, you know, there is a reverse to the coin." But she was promptly squashed: "I have tossed it and it always comes down tails." Later she tried again: "Just suppose, Daddy, that Catholics did suddenly veer round and say that God was point Omega in the evolutionary process; that the social virtues were the important ones; turned the Mass into a ceremony of uplifts; became compromising, ecumenical and forward-looking, would you believe in it then?"

Sir George paused for an appreciable time. He had not expected the question. But he was both a very intelligent and a very upright man. "No, Judith, I should still hate it. In the last resort, I hate it for what it is, not for what it says and does."

"That is very deep of you, Daddy," said Judith.

— Bryan Houghton, Judith's Marriage, 1987, p. 43.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

"Attending" Mass

At last Sunday came. Judith dutifully went to the eight o'clock Mass. She felt far too gay to pay the slightest attention, but she was sufficiently wide awake to notice a curious phenomenon: it made precisely no difference if she were attentive or not. The Mass was so far above human affairs that her thoughts, her attitudes, her longings added or subtracted exactly nothing. She pushed her way out at the earliest possible moment as though she were a hardened Catholic, utterly satisfied at having done nothing. There had been two presences, God and Judith: there could be no more.
— Bryan Houghton, Judith's Marriage, 1987, p. 23

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Death of Catherine Tekakwitha

The day-light of Wednesday in Holy Week arrived. Catherine received Extreme Unction. There were many people round her praying. One of them, of course, was her companion, Marie Thérèse. This woman, inseparable from Catherine, Catherine sent away from her. She knew that Marie Thérèse had work to do in the forest bringing in wood. Let her go out to her work. She would call Marie Thérèse if death approached. And how could she know when death would approach?

Marie Thérèse went out to her work, and sure enough, she did receive a summons from Catherine. What Catherine then said to her, Father Chauchetière, also present could not help hearing.

I am leaving you, said Catherine. I am going to die. Remember always what we have done together since first we met. If you change I shall accuse you before the tribunal of God. Take courage, despise the discoursings of those who have not the Faith. If they ever try to persuade you to marry, listen only to the Fathers. If you cannot serve God here, go to the Mission at Lorette. Don't give up your mortifications. I shall love you in Heaven. I shall pray for you. I shall aid you.

This was an Iroquois who was speaking, unmistakably an Iroquois. So strong yet so tender. A Christian Iroquois to another Iroquois: I shall aid you.

After that, she kept an Algonquian silence, or the silence of any man-born child who is dying. Father Chauchetière watched her. She seemed more to be contemplating than suffering. There was no struggle. He did notice a twinge in the neck. It was three o'clock in the afternoon. She was dead.

It was three o'clock in the afternoon that she died, and there were still some hours left before the April darkness would come to dim the dim long-house, but before the darkness came a transformation took place in Catherine's visage. A kind of glorification of this Indian girl was enacted before the Indians. It seemed not only as if her hood had at last been thrown back—it was—but as if she had torn a pock-marked mask from her face. The pock-marks were still there. Yet she shone. They had never seen her before. Thereupon the Indians behaved as they had never before behaved with one of their dead. The women did not wail. The men did not crouch about her, stoic. They pressed near to her with delight. They went farther, thought Father Chauchetière, than they should have done. They behaved like many simple, direct, peoples in the Middle Ages, of whom they had never heard, and had not the slightest desire to imitate. They kissed the hands of the empty body. They tore from its dress tatters that they could preserve as keepsakes. They did, if you wish, exactly the opposite from what their ancestors had done to their dead in the days of pagan waiting. The ancestors had given to the dead the best they had. Now they took from the dead their riches of riches. It was they who were in need. She it was who was happy. Now they were remembering the dead but in a new way.

The next day, Holy Thursday, Caughnawaga buried Catherine's body. It was a day singularly fitted for her burial, for she had had an heroic devotion for the Holy Eucharist which had been instituted on that day. And all that was connected with her burial was also fitting. At Catherine Gandeakena's funeral there had been no throwing of gifts into the grave. At Catherine Tekakwitha's there was not even sorrow. There was nothing but joy. It was not merely that a human soul, whom they happened to know and to consider holy, had gone to Paradise, there to remember them, there to plead for them. It was that one of their flesh and blood and with their ways had very visibly gone to the Christian Paradise and made it their Paradise. They could see into it more easily now. They could even take a pride in it, for from it looked down on them one who was so clearly a Christian—Catherine—and so unmistakably an Indian—Tekakwitha.

— Daniel Sargent, Catherine Tekakwitha, NY, 1936, pp. 242–244.

The Picture of Catherine Tekakwitha

It is a very tender story that Father Cholenec—not mentioning Father Chauchetière's name—tells of how Catherine was so grateful to Father Chauchetière, that she appeared to him several times in visions after her death, and gave him various messages. It seems that Father Chauchetère, whose life had never experienced any extraordinary trances—like those of Madame Acarie, or Marie de L'Incarnation, for instance—was ravished into several five-hour trances by the visitor, whom he had visited while she was on earth. So proud was he of these visits and touched by them that in his life of Catherine he did not mention them as having occurred to himself. They had happened to a certain priest. That priest, he said, had been told many things which afterwards came true. Also the priest had been commanded by Catherine to draw her picture. Since he could not draw, and merely liked looking at picures, he at first hesitated. Then he had complied, after he had been commanded. Hence we have the picture of his picture in the frontispiece of this book.

— Daniel Sargent, Catherine Tekakwitha, NY, 1936, p. 239 and frontispiece.

The Vow of Catherine Tekakwitha

In the spring of 1679, on the Feast of the Annunciation, she took what is prudently termed to be the first known vow of perpetual virginity ever taken by any Indian maiden of North America.

Father Cholenec officiated at it, and it was he also who wrote the account of it.

It was on the day of the Annunciation, the twenty-fifth of March, 1679, at eight o'clock in the morning, that Catherine Tekakwitha a moment after Jesus Christ had been given to her in Holy Communion, gave herself also entirely to Him and renouncing marriage forever, promised to Him her perpetual virginity, and finally with a heart on fire with love called on Him to deign to be her unique spouse, and to take herself as His spouse in return. She prayed Our Lady that Our Lady might with tender devotion present her to her Divine Son; then wishing to make a double sacrifice in a single act, she at the same time as she gave herself devout to Jesus Christ, consecrated herself wholly to Mary, begging her to be from then on her mother, and to take her as her daughter.*

* Cholenec, p. 51.

— Daniel Sargeant, Catherine Tekakwitha, NY, 1936, pp. 225–226.

Longing for Holy Communion

It is easy to see why there was this reluctance to admit the Iroquois to Holy Communion. It was known that they had certain gross and perverted ideas in their heads, into the terms of which they might translate the Christian doctrine. It cannot be forgotten that Indians from Ossernenon had cut off slices of Jogues's flesh while Jogues was still alive, and had devoured them. They were Mohawks who had eaten the heart of Brébeuf after it had been torn from his mutilated body, whle he hung from the stump of a tree in burned St. Ignace. More recently Father Bruyas had discovered his Oneidas roasting slowly to death a woman of the Anastes, a people of their own stock, with whom they had been engaged in an annihilating war. Such tales make us dizzy with sickness. It did seem—did it not?—that the thoughts of the Iroqois had become so tarnished, and their lips so polluted, that a long purification of lips and thoughts would have to take place before they could see the doctrine of the Blessed Eucharist, as a child without preconceptions may see it.

Yet even then it must be acknowledged that the Iroquois had been longing very particularly for Holy Communion. The very mirages they had followed showed them famished for it. They had always tried to raise themselves higher than they were by joining themselves somehow to sufferings. And here were the sufferings of Christ with which they could unite themselves. Also the Iroquois had been tormented with the desire of girding themselves into a single body, which was greater than the sum of them all as individuals. In all their wars they had, like imperialists, fought for an ultimate peace to be enjoyed in the unity of a long-house which was The Long-House.

The union with God, and with the splendor of the saints, and with the heroisms and weaknesses of the Church Militant, made possible by the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, was the very thing for which all their wars had been fought, and all their dreams had been dreamed.

— Daniel Sargent, Catherine Tekakwitha, NY, 1936, pp. 204–205.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Loving Their Enemies

Before they arrived, the village had been saved.  The Mohicans had retreated, and the villagers were feasting on one of the Mohicans whom they had captured.

It was too late to do anything about this cannibalism. Father Pierron thought it best to continue on with the two hundred irate Mohawks of the Upper Village whose numbers had been swelled by warriors from Kanawaké, and who were trying to circumvent the retreating Mohicans.  They did circumvent them, captured nineteen scalps which they brought home on a pole, and six men-captives and four women-captives, one of the latter of whom had a suckling at her breast,—a babe born in campaign. Father Perron baptized the suckling before it died. Then he watched the captives—the grown-ones—being made to sing as they marched to Kanawaké. Then he watched them as they were made to perform on the scaffold as Father Isaac Jogues had been made to perform. There was no stopping of these Iroquois ceremonies. All he could do was to instruct as many of the captives as he could in the Faith and baptize them before they were burned. In the flames it was possible for a dying Mohican to recognize Christianity. But the Mohawks triumphant could not catch sight of such a thing. Look how the Black-Robe loves our enemies, snarled a Mohawk. Father Pierron tells us what the answered.
Thereupon I embraced the opportunity to say to our Agniés that I loved their enemies—but with the same love wherewith JESUS CHRIST loves us all—because, as they had souls that were immortal, and so capable of being happy in Heaven, it was part of a Christian's duty to procure the same happiness for them all; that, besides, we were to form in Paradise only one beautiful family of true friends, because there is only one God—Who, loving us all with the same love, unites in Himself all our hearts; and for that reason I was under obligation to love their enemies. But, I added, as for them, besides that common obligation that bound me to love all men in that wise, I had also a very special love for them, because JESUS CHRIST, who is the Master of our lives, had sent me into their country to show them the way to Heaven, and not into the country of the Loups, their enemies.*

* Thwaites,, vo. LIII p. 149.
— Daniel Sargent, Catherine Tekakwitha, NY, 1936, pp. 165–166.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

A Huronian at Prayer

The Iroquoians had shown a great power of self-control even over their thoughts. This was not spontaneous, it was a matter of training. In their dances they taunted and insulted one another, and though they answered one another with counter insults, were never allowed to lose their tempers. They were schooled from childhood to hide their emotions and, more than that, to be able to swing their thoughts to what they wished to concentrate their attention on. Thus they would chant in their sufferings. Now they [the Huron Christians] began to make Christian ejaculations in the place of their chants and to think on God and on paradise.

Some of the Indians thus kept themselves in a constant state of prayer. René Tsondihouanne was asked by one of the Jesuits how many times a day he thought of God during a journey which he just taken. Only once, he replied very simply, but it was from morning to night. The Father asked him whether that conversation with God took place mentally. Not at all, he said. I find it better to speak to Him, and thus I am less easily distracted.

— Daniel Sargent, Catherine Tekakwitha, NY, 1936, pp. 129–130.