Last week I discovered that the church where I’ve been going for my weekly Holy Hour has a lending library. It was one of those fortuitous discoveries. In happened that I had runny nose and wheezy chest from the chilly walk from my car to the chapel and that there were several other adorers whom I didn’t want to disturb so I decided to go blow my nose and use my inhaler in the room across the hall, which I had never explored before, though I thought it was a sort of meeting room and that the bathrooms were there. Oh what delight to find a little library! In the few minutes I spent there I spied at least a dozen books I wanted to check out. I did check out two books, Evelyn Waugh’s Edmund Campion, which I’ve been wanting to read for quite some time, and a book of spiritual direction by St Claude de la Colombiere who was the saint Jen’s saint’s name generator chose for me two years ago and although I didn’t learn much about him then I have felt an affinity for him ever since.
A few of my favorite passages from Edmund Campion:
About Queen Elizabeth:
Had she been born in an age which offered no alternative, she would have conformed complacently enough, for, apart from a pronounced deficiency in faith, hope, and charity, she had in many ways a naturally Catholic temperament
About Pius V’s proclamation that excommunicated Elizabeth and absolved her subjects of the moral obligations of obedience to her:
His contemporaries and the vast majority of subsequent historians regard the Pope’s action as ill-judged. It has been represented as a gesture of medievalism, futile in an age of new, vigorous nationalism, and its author as an ineffectual and deluded champion, stumbling through the mists, in the ill-fitting, antiquated armor, of Gregory and Innocent; a disastrous figure, provoking instead of a few buffets for Sancho Panza the bloody ruin of English Catholicism. That is the verdict of sober criticism, both Catholic and Protestant, and yet, as one studies that odd and compelling face which peers obliquely from Zucchero’s portrait at Stonyhurst, emaciated, with its lofty and narrow forehead, the great, beaked nose, the eyes prominent in their deep sockets, and, above all else, the serene and secret curve of the lips, a doubt rises, and a hope; had he, perhaps, in those withdrawn, exalted hours before his crucifix, learned something that was hidden from the statesmen of his time and the succeeding generations of historians; seen through and beyond the present and the immediate future understood that there was to be no easy way of reconciliation, but that it was only through blood and hatred and derision that the faith was one day to return to England?
About Dr. William Allen (later Cardinal), the founder and first President of the English College at Douai and his program for training the missionary priests that would be sent to England:
The teaching was counter-reformatory; in theology and exegesis they concentrated almost entirely upon controversial texts; in their spiritual exercises they were prepared for sacrifice; they were being trained not as scholars and gentlemen, but as missionaries and martyrs. Within a few years of its foundation the seminary was sending about twenty priests a year to England, of whom, before the end of Elizabeth’s reign, 160 had died on the scaffold. To critics at the time this yearly despatch to almost certain imprisonment or death, of relays of the finest youth of the Church, seemed a gruesome and intolerable waste. In 1584 the Jesuit General Aquaviva was to write that “to send missionaries in order to give edification by their patience under torture might injure many Catholics and do no good to souls.” But Allen knew that the devotion of his seminarians, so gallantly squandered, sometimes, in a few weeks of ministry, was of more value than a lifetime of discreet industry. His was the humbler task of composing their epitaphs. One aim was paramount to him, whatever its cost; the Church of Augustine, Edward the Confessor, Thomas of Canterbury and Thomas More must go on.