FOR NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE TO GOD
THE ENGLISH CATHOLICS CALL
TO THEIR AMERICAN BROTHERS AND SISTERS
Yesterday we celebrated the feast of The Archangel Gabriel in the Old Rite, and tomorrow is the great feast of the Annunciation, as today supersedes it, being Passion Sunday, now commonly called the Fifth Sunday in Lent. Let us try and imagine this momentous encounter between the great Archangel Gabriel and Mary. No longer is the woman tempted by a serpent, the most crafty of all creatures, the fallen angel of light, Lucifer, who is now Satan the great tempter, no longer are the daughters of Eve the recipients of disaster or terrible news, but in Mary, the dawn has begun, God will now be with us, and the Sun will arise and confound the darkness. Gabriel sounds the trumpet of the Incarnation, he whose name means “The Strength of God” blows the trumpet of God’s good news which announces the coming of The King.
Paul takes the good news of the Incarnation and Redemption to Rome, and he the Apostle to the Gentiles, with Peter the Rock, sheds his blood and these two streams, Peter and Paul’s cement the foundations of the Church, and from this Rock the West emerges. Under Athanasius, and Ambrose, Basil and Cyprian, Augustine, and Gregory, Jerome and Bede, the spokes of the wheel that became Europe rode the World, conquered, and sadly did great damage as well as great good. Gregory The Great from his lofty heights, the watchman of the West, gave the World the Medieval Church and bequeathed to it the Classical World’s riches that came from Augustine the Great, and Augustine more than any other theologian, and father of the Church, was aware, acutely aware of the rebelliousness in Man. In the great confrontation with the British heretic Pelagius he was aware of the dangers of that theologian’s manifesto, namely that Man did not need grace to be saved. Pelagius’s heresy is about the autonomy of Man. Man can save himself, and there is no need of grace. Such a terrifying view questions the Incarnation and is in danger of aligning itself with Arianism, which denied the Divinity of Christ, and paved the way for modern Western Man.
The Pelagian germ remained deep in the British heart, why is hard to say, and then it infected the English. This is strange because the English were very different from the British, but the British when the Angles, and the Saxons and Jutes came to these shores refused to convert the English. They would not give the Gospel to these fearsome warriors. Why we do not know, bar the fact that they had become, according to Bede, victims of their own immorality, and their own bloody civil wars. Gregory, mounted on his watchtower surveying the West, sent Augustine, the Abbot of his old monastery, soon to be Archbishop Augustine of Canterbury, to the Angles whom he had first seen as angelic fair headed youths in the Forum of Rome. From that first meeting he never forgot them, and now on his Papal throne, he sent the timid Augustine to the English, and the timid apostle won over the English, making true the words of Paul “When I am weak then I am strong”. Nothing is impossible to God.
The English Church from the days of Augustine of Canterbury, to the death of St. Edward the Confessor, was utterly devoted to the see of Peter, and even the cold ferocity of the Norman conquerors could never destroy that warm, earnest love for the Apostolic See, for was not Gregory The Great, the Father of the English, and was not the Benedictine Way and the Cistercian Way so much part and parcel of the English temperament, reasonable and passionate?
But the English had to deal with the Norman Kings and their descendents who always wanted to conquer the Church, and make it their tool. So William Rufus, the son of the cruel, but devout William the Conqueror, seems to have been an atheist, and he had Anselm to deal with. This great saint, being an Italian Archbishop of Canterbury and a monk, would not allow the Church to be compromised by worldly power. Anselm is exiled, returns under Henry I who like his predecessor, William Rufus, wants to dominate the Church. Once again Anselm goes into exile because he would not allow the King to dominate the Church. Even Pope Paschal was more moderate than Anselm, asking that he, Anselm, make a few concessions to Henry. Paschal was proved wrong, for when Henry’s grandson Henry II becomes King he still wants to dominate the Church and control it, and like so many medieval kings wants the Church’s riches forgetting that these riches belong, first and foremost, to the poor. Henry comes up against Becket, who is killed not on the King’s order, but on the angry words of the King, whose companion knights on hearing them, hasten to Canterbury and kill the Archbishop who has only just, like another Anselm, returned from exile.
The bad blood of the Norman Kings continues in Plantaganet veins, firstly as we have seen with Henry II, but then with Henry III whose bad behaviour forces St. Edmund of Abingdon, the last sainted Archbishop of Canterbury into exile. Devout Kings like Richard II, and Henry VI suffer for their devotion to the Church. Richard II makes England Our Lady’s dowry and is murdered, and Henry VI another murdered king, who though an incompetent ruler, and subject to bouts of mental instability, was undoubtedly a saint. Henry VIII realized this, and sought to have his saintly forebear canonized. The bad blood of pride, of vainglory, of lustful passion for a bad woman, destroyed Henry’s piety, made a rebel of the English Church to the Papacy, and turned England into a Police State, a thoroughly modern nation state, and a prototype for the modern secularist vision. Mary Tudor a woman of extraordinary integrity could not supply an heir to the throne, and died too young to stop the English Juggernaut from creating a false history, a false identity, and a false Church which would not, as Elizabeth I, said “open windows into men’s souls”.
Magnificent and mendacious Elizabeth re-invented the English psyche, and glorious chameleon that she was, and consummate actress that she was, she imprinted on the English people false memories, and corrupted values, from which they have never truly broken from. Ever the child of her dreadful father, this spiritually doomed Queen whose sheer greatness has always been acknowledge, created an England which would be the envy and the bane of the world. Her reign produced magnificent swashbucklers like Drake and Hawkins, poets like Spencer, and playwrights like Bacon, Marlowe and the incomparable William Shakespeare, composers like Byrd and the Angelic Tallis, and she made the English utterly insular in their grandeur and repellent in their xenophobia, and through her persecution of the Puritans, which later was taken up by James I, she unwittingly changed her colonies in America into the Protestant foundations for that great nation, who would rebel against the English crown, as the English Crown had rebelled against Peter, the Rock upon which not only the Church was built but from which Europe was born.
It was Peter, in Gregory who made Europe, it was Elizabeth and her Father who made the modern, atheistic, and secular West. Religion was private, all that mattered was free trade, and colonizing the World. The British Empire on the whole was benign and the 19th century revival of religion and piety was good, but not good enough. Despite the great French, Italian, and Spanish saints who had, in the counter reformation saints, saved Catholicism in much of Europe, the fact that England remained Protestant was and still is a disaster for the World in which we find ourselves today. Yes the great missionary Orders of the 19th century, like the Oblates of Mary Immaculate did marvellous work in the past, but do they do that work today?
The Redemptorists and Passionists, those phoenixes arisen from the ashes that recall the Jesuits and the Capuchins of 16th century, where are they today? Indeed when the Church finds itself like the greatest of the English Kings, namely Alfred, in a hopeless situation, powerless before the Danish foe, with no hope of success, where are the Dominicans, the Dogs of the Lord, where are the Jesuits, the knights of the Papacy, where are the Franciscans bearers of God’s poverty to a nascent World state? The West determined on the destruction of Christianity, especially Catholicism, deifies technology and trade, despotism, and eugenics and finally driven to the ultimate intoxicating goal, which Modern Man dreams of in his depraved imagination; the worship of himself.
Mary Tudor dies hearing Mass and seeing little children, Elizabeth dies terrified seeing the fires of Hell and the Catholic saints she has killed, for being supposedly enemies of the State, coming towards her. Do they come with weal or do they come with woe? The tragedy is that from Henry VIII onwards, the Kings and Queens of England have, wittingly or unwittingly, been the enemies of the Old England. They have betrayed Alfred, St. Edmund the martyr, St. Edward the Confessor. They have betrayed the great saints of these Isles, who loved the Faith and loved Rome, and why did they love the Papacy? Because they knew that the Pope was the Rock that anchored not only the Church, but Europe, that protected her children from the ravages and rapine of rulers (This was seen very definitely Innocent’s interdiction of England because of King John’s behaviour). They loved the Mass, they loved Our Lady, whom the reformers hated, they loved their great churches and abbeys, because the Church loved the poor, but the lackeys of Henry, the sycophants of Elizabeth, and the far more attractive Oliver Cromwell and his supporters, could not abide The Mass or Our Lady, because they wanted England to be great, but did not want her to be holy, really holy with Mary’s holiness, which is perfect humility.
And so England waxed strong, so strong that she was the greatest power on Earth, but her Protestant Cousin, Prussia now waxed strong, and Protestant vied with Protestant for the wealth of the World and its power, and so in that terrible conflagration of the West, the Great War, were let loose the forces that inundate the World today. For now the world is socialist or tyrannical or both, and this is exemplified by the Government of Britain, it is both conservative and liberal, but if it is honest, it is socialist, differently from the National Socialists in Germany, and the Communists of Russia, but socialist in the sense that it will somehow make Heaven on Earth, and it will do it by subordinating everything to the material. No room for spiritual values here; it must be all about health and economics, productivity, and commerce, pleasure and leisure, and, sex unbridled sex, at the expense of marriage, especially Christian marriage. It must have soothing words as it aborts another baby, and makes economic slaves of the rest or the world while mouthing platitudes about democracy, equality, and liberty, but these words do not at all apply to Christians or the Catholic Church. The spirit of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I are not dead. The Church must obey the State, be it the Reformation Parliament, or be it the present parliament of Great Britain. The people make the decisions, these latter governments say, a greater lie than this does not exist. Did the people make the English Revolution, French Revolution, the American Revolution, The Russian Revolution; of course not. The people never do, nor does the crowd or the mob think. It is the thinkers and the philosophers, but it is never the truly devout Christian that engineers revolution.
And so we look at Alfred burning the cakes and being scolded by his hostess, a fugitive King with no hope of earthly rescue, but his hope is in God, because he has taken to heart the words of Gabriel “For nothing is impossible to God”. It was Alfred who remade England and took his inspiration from “God’s Consul” Gregory The Great. No King of England has been greater than Alfred, and yet he is side lined by the bullish William the Conqueror, the brilliant Henry II, the great warriors Edward I, and Henry V. He is outclassed by Elizabeth, and his Empire cannot compete with Victoria’s, but his vision and not their’s is the purest and the best, for when he was a child he was taken to Rome, and fell in love with the Christian, the Catholic Faith. If the Reformation had failed in England, it would have failed in the West and the Catholic Church, chastened and made holy by the attacks of Luther, and Calvin, would, with the aid of England have been able to save the Americas from the brutal treatment that it received at the hands of the English and the Spanish, the Dutch and the Portuguese conquerors, veritable brigands indeed.
Where are the sons of Ignatius to defend the Faith as they did at the Reformation? As darkness falls on the West, and spiritual desolation freezes the heart of the World a new order must arise to save the World. It may be the much prophesied “Crucifers”, but perhaps that moment has not arrived, but the sons and daughters of your English Mother, namely you young American Catholics can still turn the tide, and unlike Canute you will send the sea back and it will obey, that sea of atheism, secularism, materialism, and ultimate deceit, that Earth can be made into Heaven.
For You American Catholics, who are faithful to Rome, have the passion, and the faithfulness, and the courage, which your English cousins are in most need of. The Church here has no champions as it does in America, and despondency falls upon the land. The English are dreaming of past glory and fail to realize it is at best a mirage, at worst a nightmare. The Queen celebrates her Jubilee this year, but does not realize she is celebrating the triumph of secularism over religion. This very year of Jubilee is the year that the Government wants to make law Homosexual marriage. Henry’s divorce sundered England from the West, and this law will bind it to Satan, and so many far too many souls will be dragged down to the everlasting misery of Hell. Are there not young American men who will give their lives even to blood, to bring the English back to the Church, and the West back to The Faith? Are there no martyrs among you, no missionaries among you who cannot join the battle? Are there none among you who cannot emulate a John Fisher, a Thomas More, an Edmund Campion, a Robert Southwell, and an Edmund Arrowsmith? Are there no women among you who cannot mirror a Margaret Pole, a Margaret Clitherow, a Margaret Ward, and an Anne Line? If you can bring the English back to the Faith, then you will shine as brightly as the stars in Heaven.
But you will ask but who are you to ask this, and what are you that we should heed your voice? We are simply three hermits. We are no longer young, nor are we very old, and we have hoped and prayed for the conversion of this land for many a year. We have seen the State bully the Church and we have seen few champions arise, but we know that hermits are given a vision, a vision that is not their own, and we know that though we are unimportant, and thought of as ridiculous or eccentric, or mad, and even worse, incomprehensible to many in the Church, we also know that nothing is impossible to God. We know that this land is Mary’s dowry and it is our duty to give it back to her, and we ask you to come to our aid with your prayers with your love, and possibly the greatest gift at our present time, a new order, new companions of Jesus, new soldiers of Christ, new dogs of the Lord? Your great passion and love for the Church can do this? With Mary we can say “Be it done unto more according to thy word.” In those words we offer you the key to the conversion of England “For nothing is impossible to God”
I close with a scene from Chesterton’s “The Ballad of the White Horse”, which was such a source of comfort to C.S. Lewis and others in World War II. Here Alfred has a vision of Our Lady, who says these words of comfort and challenge to him, and all those who battle for the truth, which is The Church.
But you and all the kind of Christ,
Are ignorant and brave,
And you have wars you hardly win
And souls you hardly save.
I tell you naught for your comfort,
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.
Night shall be thrice night over you,
And heaven an iron cope.
Do you have joy without a cause,
Yea, faith without a hope?
Even as she spoke she was not,
Nor any word said he,
He only heard, still as he stood
Under the old night’s nodding hood,
The sea-folk breaking down the wood
Like a high tide from sea.
He only heard the heathen men,
Whose eyes are blue and bleak,
Singing about some cruel thing
Done by a great and smiling king
In daylight on a deck
He only heard the heathen men,
Whose eyes are blue and blind,
Singing what shameful things are done
Between the sunlit sea and the sun
When the land is left behind.