Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring Has Sprung

Today at 16:57 Universal Time, the sun crossed the celestial equator.  That means the point on the earth where the center of the sun was directly overhead was on the equator; the sun reached zenith at the equator; the Southern and Northern Hemispheres were equally illuminated; and the periods of daylight and nighttime today are roughly equal.  In other words: it is now Spring.  From this point forward, the hours of daylight will exceed the hours of nighttime.  When the Summer Solstice occurs on June 21st, the daylight will begin to recede, until the Autumnal Equinox; then, the nights will lengthen, until the Winter Solstice.

As I have commented many times before in this space, and will go on commenting, the changes of season are freighted with a spiritual significance that has been obscured since the iconoclasts took their scissors and blue pencils to the liturgical calendar in the wake of Vatican II.  The Annunciation, March 25th, coincides with the Vernal Equinox; Good Friday is also held to have taken place on March 25th, followed by Easter Sunday.  This was to show that the winter of satan's reign was ended, and the Kingdom of God, with its light and warmth and abundance of life, was begun.  The Summer Solstice, when daylight begins to decrease, coincides with the Nativity of John the Baptist; the Winter Solstice, when daylight begins to increase, coincides with the Nativity of Christ, to underscore the Baptist's saying that he must decrease, while Christ increased.  As far as the Autumnal Equinox is concerned, my own entirely personal opinion is that, since this falls during the time for harvest, it stands for the harvest of souls at the end of time, when the wheat is gathered into the Master's barn, and the tares are bundled up and burned.  

The modernists would have us believe that this is all just man projecting his religious yearnings onto impersonal nature and seeing what he wants to see.  The reality, however, is that not one single thing exists outside of God's plan and loving providence, in which there are no gaps or deficiencies that He needs us to supply for.  It is all meant to communicate God's love to us, and to lead us to Himself.

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Chastisement

Put not your trust in princes: in the children of men, in whom there is no salvation.  
Psalm 145:2-3

A reminder that today is the one-year anniversary of Benedict XVI's abdication inspired some reflections on the wild ride we have had since that day, both in the Church and in secular society. 

For those with eyes to see, it should be clear that we are under chastisement.   Events are accelerating.  Everything we had taken for granted up to now, from bedrock institutions to moral principles, is disintegrating.  The capital of Christian civilization, built up over two thousand years, is nearly all frittered away.  The enemies of everything we held dear now have the upper hand, and they are busily engaged in destroying.  The unthinkable daily morphs into the commonplace.  One is more and more conscious of being an outsider, even among family and friends, as one is unable to join them in embracing socialism and homosexual unions and abortion and hatred of the Catholic Church, and a host of imaginary "rights", the pursuit of which is costing us our authentic rights.

A chastisement is meant to make us straighten up and start flying right.  But at the moment, too many people like what's going on.  There are a few who recognize the evil for what it is and deliberately choose it; many more, probably most, are deluded by the pursuit of their own comfort coupled with blindness to supernatural realities.  They think this is victory for the good guys.  They think things are finally going the way they should.  They look at wholesale destruction and see creation.  They look at murder and see mercy.  They look at oppression and see liberation.  They look at lies and see the truth -- whatever truth they find most convenient.  

To too many people -- even many Catholics, including priests and bishops and religious -- what is happening does not look like divine punishment.  Since too many of us do not see this as punishment, not enough of us are straightening up.  That is why I fear we are in for something far worse than what we have seen up to now.

Who knows what form it will take?  Very likely, something that will hit us precisely where we are most complacent.  We have grown decadent in our wealth: even the poor in America have color televisions, cars, air conditioning and more than enough to eat.  And, for most of America's existence, she has enjoyed freedom from foreign invasion.  A dozen years after 9/11, we have sunk back into apathy.  Now that the United States is an oligarchy run by persons friendly to her enemies, perhaps it is only a question of time before our economy plunges into the abyss and the scourge of war lashes us in our own streets.

So, do we just give up and crawl back into our caves?  The time will come when that won't be an option.  But there is in any case no neutral ground: we have set before us life and death, and we must stretch out our hand to one of them.  We must choose life.

Should we pursue political remedies?  Of course.  I have advocated previously in this space for Mark Levin's proposed constitutional amendment convention, which the Founding Fathers had the foresight to provide for for times just like these.  But that is not going to be enough.  The chastisement will not be taken away until the reasons for it have ended.  Those reasons are in our own hearts, and our hearts need to be changed.  We need sorrow for our sins and purpose of amendment.  We need to do good and avoid evil.  We must be holy as God is holy.  For that, we need sanctifying grace.  I fear many people -- many Catholics -- are living without sanctifying grace.  I fear -- and it is horrible to consider -- that many are dying without sanctifying grace. 

God is under no obligation to give us what we need to be holy if we don't ask for it, so we must pray, especially the Rosary.  The Rosary was given to us precisely for our times.  We must pray the Rosary not only for ourselves but for others.  It is the best thing we can do.  The time is coming, and may already be here, when it will be the only thing we can do.

Monday, February 03, 2014

The Saints in Art

Today I happened upon a rather striking image of the Presentation by Bl. Fra Angelico, the great artist of the Order of Preachers:

Fra Angelico frequently includes Dominican saints in his scenes from Scripture and Tradition.  At first glance, I assumed the kneeling friar was St. Dominic.  But upon closer inspection, it is clearly not St. Dominic.

St. Dominic is usually pictured with a star over his head.  There is no star over the head of this friar.  But look closely at his scalp.  His skull is split.

This is St. Peter Martyr, also known as St. Peter of Verona.  Born in 1205 in Verona, Peter was received into the Order of Preachers at age 16 by St. Dominic himself.  He was a great preacher, mystic and miracle worker, and was appointed Inquisitor for northern Italy by Pope Gregory IX.  Among other miracles, Peter predicted his own martyrdom, which took place near Milan, Italy on April 6, 1252.  Cathar assassins waylaid him on the road, striking his head with an axe and stabbing him.  Before he died, he traced in the dust, with his own blood, the first line of the Creed: Credo in unum Deum.  At the sight of Peter's saintly death, one of his murderers, named Carino, was converted and later himself took the habit of St. Dominic.  

Just as the resurrected Christ is always shown with the pierced hands and feet of His Crucifixion, martyrs are also frequently depicted in art bearing their mortal wounds, or with the weapons that dealt them their death blow.  St. Paul, for instance, usually carries the sword that cut his head off; St. John Houghton, one of the Carthusians hanged, drawn and quartered under Henry VIII, is shown with a noose; St. Maximilian Kolbe is shown wearing his prisoner's uniform from Auschwitz.  This is not only so that their images may be recognized and identified.  It is also because these symbols of their martyrdom, which seem gruesome and squalid from the world's point of view, are really trophies of victory.  They were borne out of love, and are therefore these saints' glory in heaven.

Here is St. Peter Martyr and his split skull again, in this scene of the Madonna and Child, also by Fra Angelico.  

Here we have Sts. Cosmas and Damien, St. Mark, St. John, and St. Lawrence, who carries the grill on which he was roasted alive.  The three Dominican saints are recognizable by their distinctive emblems.  A star shines over the head of St. Dominic.  St. Thomas Aquinas, who, in his humility, tries to hide behind St. John and St. Lawrence, can nevertheless be recognized by the sun shining from his breast.  And St. Peter Martyr bears the ghastly axe wound that sent him into eternal life.  Notice, too, that the halo surrounding the head of the Christ Child contains the cross, while His Mother is crowned with twelve stars, like the woman clothed with the sun in the Apocalypse (Book of Revelation) of St. John.

Really good Christian art inspires, edifies, uplifts, and is rich in food for meditation.  

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

January 28th (Post-Conciliar Calendar): St. Thomas Aquinas, O.P.

Francisco de Zurbarán, The Apotheosis of St. Thomas Aquinas (1631).  See here for an article about this painting.
Happy feast day to my friend and illustrious brother in St. Dominic, Thomas Aquinas.  On the pre-conciliar calendar, his feast is on March 7th.  Though I went through a large part of my life without a particular devotion to the Angelical, I have reason to believe that he has been quietly and secretly taking care of me in a special way.

Here is the Summa Theologica, available online in its entirety.

Here is Leo XIII's 1879 encyclical Aeterni Patris, on the restoration of Christian philosophy, in which the Pope discusses the monumental importance of Aquinas and his teaching.

Here is a pretty good sermon about Thomas Aquinas, delivered in 2006.  To be well-grounded in Aquinas, says the priest, is a sure safeguard against heresy.  The hatred and denigration of Aquinas, on the other hand, is an unmistakable sign of a modernist.

And, last but not least, the Litany of Thomas of Aquin.

O THOU, the Most High, have mercy on us.
Mighty One of Jacob, have mercy on us.
Divine Spirit, have mercy on us.
Great Triune God, have mercy on us.

Glorious Mother of the King of kings, pray for us.
Saint Thomas of Aquin, pray for us.
Worthy child of the Queen of Virgins...
Aquinas most chaste...
Aquinas most patient...
Prodigy of science...
Silently eloquent...
Reproach of the ambitious...
Lover of that life which is hidden with Christ in God...
Fragrant flower in the parterre of St. Dominic...
Glory of Friars Preachers...
Illlumined from on high...
Angel of the Schools...
Oracle of the Church...
Incomparable scribe of the Man-God...
Satiated with the odour of His perfumes...
Perfect in the school of His Cross...
Intoxicated with the strong wine of His charity...
Glittering gem in the cabinet of the Lord...
Model of perfect obedience...
Endowed with the true spirit of holy poverty...

Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world: have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world: have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world: grant us peace.

Ant.— Oh, how beautiful is the chaste generation with glory, for the memory thereof is immortal, because it is known with God and man, and it triumpheth crowned for ever.
V. Oh! what have I in heaven, or what do I desire on earth?
R. Thou art the God of my heart, and my portion for ever.


O God, who hast ordained that blessed Thomas should enlighten Thy Church, grant that through his prayers we may practise what he taught, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Random Thoughts

-- If you work, then from time to time, you need a rest.  Hence the wisdom of things like keeping holy the Lord's Day and the seventh-year jubilee.  If you refuse to take time off, then sooner or later, your body is going to overrule you.  This, I believe, is one of the reasons I am out sick with a nice cold.  So, if you need the time off, you are going to get it, one way or the other; the question is whether you will enjoy it.

-- If, on the other hand, you are doing nothing for no good reason, then put down the doobie, turn off World of Warcraft, start keeping regular hours and get busy.

-- I grew up in a part of the country where 40 above was considered heavy coat weather, so even after nearly two decades spent living in Idaho, I find myself sorely tried in winter.  Yet I am fortunate compared to much of the rest of the country: in all the years I've lived here, I have never had to try and function in temperatures approaching 40 below, like the midwest is having right now.

-- I love Christmas lights, especially the small, white ones, and I'm all for keeping them -- as distinguished from Christmas trees -- up all winter, to illuminate the the long winter nights.  I despise the dim "energy-saving" "lights," with their cold, bluish cast, that illuminate nothing.  In the past, the Idaho state Christmas tree used to stand at the top of the Capitol steps and be covered from top to bottom with strings of white lights that could be seen all the way from the old Boise Depot; now, they use those "energy saving" "lights," and the tree is almost invisible until you stand right underneath it.  They also used to put up alternating red and green lights in the Capitol dome; they have now quit doing that.  If there is one thing that should not be doled out with an eyedropper in these times of both physical and spiritual frigidity, it's Christmas cheer.

-- Priests and bishops are fathers to their flocks, and sometimes it is a father's duty to say "no" to his children.  Some priests and bishops reserve their "no"s exclusively for their children of traditional bent who try to be faithful Catholics.  But this is altogether too easy: these children respect the authority of their fathers and submit, even though it is painful.  I would challenge such priests and bishops to try saying "no" to their "progressive" children: the ones who do not respect their fathers' authority; the ones with the all money that they use to try to blackmail the Church into giving them their way on everything; the ones who organize protest campaigns; the ones who write letters and contact the local media, and even file lawsuits; in short, the ones who, by their words and actions, show that they do not believe the Church or her hierarchy to be of divine institution.  Say "no" to these, firmly and consistently, come what may, and your authority will shine out all the brighter.  Besides which, these are the ones who most need to be told "no."

-- If you are disconcerted by a lot of the things Pope Francis is doing and saying -- and I number myself among such -- then listen to this.

-- By the way, the name is Pope Francis, not Pope Francis I.  There will be no such thing as "Pope Francis I" unless and until another Pope takes the regnal name of Francis.

-- Some people in my immediate circle have commented on what a bad P.R. move it is for the Obamacare juggernaut to pit itself against a religious congregation with a name like the Little Sisters of the Poor.  I think it's just a sign that the Obama regime has gone past the point of caring what the American people think.  In fact, it has gone past even bothering with the pretense of caring what the American people think.  That means we are in for even rockier times.

-- Here is a point for meditation in these rocky times.  Compare and contrast the pagan titan Atlas -- huge, muscle-bound, struggling to hold up the heavens on his shoulders -- with the Infant of Prague, small, delicate under His kingly crown and mantle, yet holding the whole world effortlessly, like a ball, in the palm of his little hand.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

The First Post of 2014... to announce that I have officially been stricken by whatever the crud is that's been going around at work.  All you people who have been associating with me the last few days need to start taking your zinc and vitamin C.

I will now go back to my regularly scheduled nose-blowing.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Passing Scene: 2013

Herewith the annual V for Victory! year-end highlights, with thanks as usual to Wikipedia for refreshing my recollection:


2: The "fiscal cliff" is allegedly averted with the signing into law of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.
4: The Church of England admits homosexuals in civil partnerships to its episcopacy, on condition that they live in continence.
5: Murder spree, Aurora, Colorado: a gunman murders three inside a home before dying as a SWAT team storms the house.
10: A 16-year-old student opens fire inside a classroom at a high school in Taft, California, critically wounding another student before surrendering to authorities.
15: Murder spree, Hazard, Kentucky: shooter kills two and wounds one at Hazard Community and Technical College before turning himself in to authorities.  The motive appears to have been domestic-related.  Also: horse meat begins to be discovered in beef products in European supermarkets.
18: Lance Armstrong admits to Oprah Winfrey that he doped.
20: Murder spree, Albuquerque, New Mexico: shooter, aged 15, murders two adults and three children at a home.
23: The U.S. military lifts its ban on women in combat.
24: North Korea announces a new nuclear test and states that long-range missiles are aimed at the United States.
27: 240 people perish and 168 are wounded in a fire at the Kiss night club in Santa Maria, Brazil.
29: An outbreak of at least 57 tornadoes within a 25-hour period begins to strike the American Southeast from Oklahoma to Georgia.  Also: A gunman kidnaps a five-year-old boy from a school bus in Midland City, Alabama, after murdering the driver, who dies defending the children on the bus; he holds the child hostage in a bunker for seven days before being shot by police, who then rescue the boy.
30: Murder spree, Phoenix, Arizona: a gunman murders two and wounds one during a mediation session, and later turns the gun on himself.

Deaths: Huell Howser (host, California's Gold); Patti Page; Pauline Phillips, aka Abigail van Buren ("Dear Abby"); Quentin Smith (Tuskeegee Airmen); Conrad Bain (father in Diff'rent Strokes); Ned Wertimer (Ralph the doorman in The Jeffersons); Stan "The Man" Musial; Patty Andrews (last of the Andrews Sisters).


1: Two die in a suicide bombing outside the U.S. embassy in Ankara, Turkey.  Also: Hillary Clinton steps down as Secretary of State and is replaced by John Kerry.
2: Former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and another man are gunned down at a shooting range near Glen Rose, Texas.
4: A skeleton found by archaeologists in Leicester, England is publicly identified as the remains of King Richard III.
7: Beginning of the February 2013 nor'easter, a massive blizzard that affected Canada, the northeast United States, Iceland, Britain and Ireland, leaving 18 dead and hundreds of thousands stranded or without power.
11: Pope Benedict XVI announces his abdication, effective February 28th at 20:00 Rome time.
12: North Korea announces the successful test of a nuclear weapon.  Also: A three-county shooting rampage in southern California that left four dead ends when the shooter, ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner, commits suicide during a stand-off with police in the San Bernardino mountains.
14: Oscar Pistorius, South African amputee sprinter and Olympic contender, is charged with murder in the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.
15: A 66-foot, 11,000-ton asteroid enters the earth's atmosphere and explodes in the air near Chelyabinsk, Russia.  The shock wave damages 7,200 buildings in six cities and results in about 1,500 injuries.  On the same day, a near-earth asteroid approximately 160 feet across passes within 17,200 miles of the earth's surface.
19: North Korea threatens the final destruction of South Korea at a UN disarmament conference.  Also: murder spree, Orange County, California: a murder-carjacking spree leaves three dead and three more wounded before the shooter turns the gun on himself.
25: Keith Cardinal O'Brien, Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburg, steps down amid allegations of sexual misconduct with priests.  He will decline to take part in the upcoming papal conclave.
26: Murder spree, Santa Cruz, California: a suspect in a sexual assault case murders two plainclothes detectives, and is shortly thereafter killed in a shootout with police.  Also: Chuck Hagel is confirmed as Secretary of Defense.

Deaths: Ed Koch; Peter Gilmore (British actor); Paul Tanner (trombonist, last surviving member of Glenn Miller's orchestra); Rev. Mr. Bill Steltemeier (attorney, Catholic deacon and chairman and CEO of EWTN); Mindy McCready (country singer); C. Everett Koop; Van Cliburn; Dale Robertson; Richard Street (The Temptations).


3: A two-year-old Mississippi girl who was born with HIV is pronounced HIV negative following treatment.
7: North Korea threatens a pre-emptive nuclear strike against its enemies.
11: North Korea cuts the telephone hotline between North and South.
12: The Cardinals of the Catholic Church meet in conclave in the Sistine Chapel to choose a successor to Benedict XVI.
13: Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio is elected Pope, and chooses the regnal name Francis.
25: In another pathetic attempt to prop up the failing Eurozone, the government of Cyprus and the EU reach a "bailout" agreement that involves the theft of funds from people's bank accounts.
28: New scientific experiments show that the Shroud of Turin is not a medieval fraud and can indeed be dated to the first century A.D.
29: North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un orders preparations for rocket strikes against the United States mainland.
30: North Korea declares itself to be at war with South Korea.
31: Kaufman County, Texas District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, are murdered at their home, two months after another district attorney from the same office was murdered on his way to work.

Deaths: Anthony Lewis; Harry Reems; Frank Thornton (Are You Being Served?, Last of the Summer Wine); Ieng Sary (co-founder of the evil Khmer Rouge); Malachi Throne (character actor); Hugo Chavez; Bonnie Franklin; Phil Ramone.


3: South Korea reports that North Korea is denying workers access to the jointly-run Kaesong Industrial Park.
9: North Korea threatens to launch a missile the following day.
11: Servant of God Fr. Emil Kapaun is posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his valor during the Korean War.
12: A tornado-laden storm strikes the midwestern and southern United States, causing three deaths.  Also: North Korea threatens Japan with annihilation.
15: A pair of brothers from Chechnya set off home-made bombs at the Boston Marathon, killing three and wounding 183, from motives of Islamic jihad.
18: The Boston Marathon bombers murder a policeman in his car at MIT.
19: The Boston Marathon bombers engage police in a firefight, in the course of which one bomber is run over by the other and killed; the other is found in a boat by a man who stepped outside for a smoke, and eventually captured.
21: Murder spree, Federal Way, Washington: shooter murders his live-in girlfriend, then murders three other people in the apartment complex before being shot by police.
24: Murder spree, Manchester, Illinois: shooter breaks into a house, murders a family of five, then dies in a shoot-out with police.  Also: The feds admit to having been previously warned about the Boston Marathon bombers by the Russian government.  Also: A garment factory building in Bangladesh collapses, resulting in 1,127 deaths.
29: Back-bencher Jason Collins of the Washington Wizards announces his homosexuality,  making him the first NBA player to do so, to the delight of the media and the White House.
30: Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands abdicates the throne in favor of her son, King Willem-Alexander.

Deaths: Margaret Thatcher; Milo O'Shea; Roger Ebert; Leslie Broderick (one of the last survivors of the Great Escape); Annette Funicello; Maria Tall Chief (first American Indian prima ballerina); Jonathan Winters; Frank Bank ("Lumpy" on Leave It to Beaver); Richard LeParmentier (telekinetically throttled by Darth Vader in Star Wars); Allan Arbus; George Jones.


2: Rhode Island legalizes same-sex "marriage."
5: A bomb explodes inside a Catholic church in Arusha, Tanzania, killing 1 and injuring 57.
6: Cleveland, Ohio: three women and one child are rescued from captivity in the home of Ariel Castro, who had held the women and sexually abused them for a decade, fathering the child on one of them.  Castro will later hang himself in prison.
7: Delaware legalizes same-sex "marriage."
8: Jodi Arias is convicted of the first-degree murder of her boyfriend in Arizona.
13: Pennsylvania abortionist Kermit Gosnell is convicted of various felonies, including three counts of murdering newborn infants.
14: The IRS admits to targeting Tea Party and other conservative organizations for special treatment.  Also: Brazil legalizes same-sex "marriage."
17: The brightest meteor impact yet observed takes place on the Moon.
20: The Church of Scotland votes to allow openly homosexual ministers.
22: Lee Rigby, a British army drummer, is hacked to death in the street in Woolwich, London, with knives and meat cleavers by two jihadists.
23: The Boy Scouts of America is opened up to openly homosexual members.
26: 150,000 people take to the streets of Paris, France to protest same-sex "marriage."
30: Nigeria bans same-sex "marriage."

Deaths: Dr. Joyce Brothers; Marshall Lytle (Bill Haley and the Comets); Fr. Andrew Greeley; Jean Stapleton.


2: Heavy rains lead to disastrous floods all over Europe.
3: The U.S. Supreme Court holds that DNA samples can be collected from criminal suspects without their consent.
4: Britain celebrates the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation.
6: Classified documents leaked by NSA contractor Edward Snowden are published, revealing massive U.S. government surveillance activities.  Snowden will flee the country to avoid arrest.
7: Murder spree, Santa Monica, California: shooter sets a house on fire and goes on a rampage at Santa Monica College, killing 4 before being killed.
13: Murder spree, St. Louis, Missouri: a home health-care business owner kills three and then himself.
14: Heavy rains begin in northern India that will result in flooding that will leave thousands presumed dead.
15: Murder spree, Omaha, Nebraska: gunman kills two and wounds two more before being shot by police.
17: The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down an Arizona law requiring voters to show proof of citizenship in federal elections.
18: Russia passes a law banning adoption of Russian children by foreign same-sex couples.
21: Edward Snowden is charged with espionage.
25: The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down that part of the Voting Rights Act that required certain jurisdictions to seek federal approval before making changes to voting practices.
26: The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down that part of the Defense of Marriage Act that codified non-recognition of same-sex "marriages" for federal purposes. Also: Proposition 8, which had banned same-sex "marriage" in California, is stricken down.
30: 19 firefighters perish in a wildfire in Yarnell, Arizona.

Deaths: Frank Lautenberg (U.S. Senator from New Jersey); Esther Williams; Jiroemon Kimura (verified oldest man in history, dying at age 116); Vince Flynn; James Gandolfini; Slim Whitman; Marc Rich.


3: The Egyptian military seizes control of the government from the Muslim Brotherhood.  Also: King Albert II of Belgium announces he will abdicate in favor of his son, Philippe.
5: The forthcoming canonizations of Bl. John XXIII and Bl. John Paul II are announced.
13: George Zimmerman is acquitted of the murder of Trayvon Martin.
17: Same-sex "marriage" becomes legal in England and Wales.
22: A son, now third in the line of succession to the throne of England, is born to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
26: Murder spree, Hialeah, Florida: gunman starts a fire, murders six people and takes two more hostage at his apartment complex before being shot by police.
30: Suspected U.S. spy Bradley Manning is acquitted of aiding the enemy but convicted of five counts each of espionage and theft.  He will be sentenced to 35 years.

Deaths: Paul Jenkins (character actor); Leonard Garment (figure in Watergate scandal); Mel Smith (the albino in The Princess Bride); Helen Thomas; Dennis Farina; Eileen Brennan; Michael Ansara.


8: Murder spree, Dallas, Texas: shooter kills four and wounds four more in two homes before being apprehended.
10: James Lee DiMaggio, who kidnapped a teenage girl and murdered her mother and brother in Boulevard, California, is found with the girl at a campground near Cascade, Idaho, and shot by the FBI.
17: Start of the Rim Fire, the third largest wildfire in California history, which will take more than two months to contain.
19: Track star Oscar Pistorius is charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.
22: Aaron Hernandez, formerly of the New England Patriots, is indicted for murder in the gunshot death of Odin Lloyd.
23: Nidal Malik Hassan, the jihadist shooter in the 2009 Fort Hood massacre, is convicted of multiple counts of murder and attempted murder.  He will be sentenced to death.

Deaths: Gail Kobe (character actress and producer); Margaret Pellegrini (one of the last surviving Munchkins from The Wizard of Oz); Karen Black; Eydie Gormé; Jack Germond; David Frost.


8: My birthday.
12: The Anglican Church in Wales votes to allow female bishops.  Also: NASA announces that Voyager I has left the solar system and reached interstellar space.
16: Murder spree, Washington Naval Yard in D.C.: gunman murders 12 and wounds three more before being shot by police.
21: Jihadist gunmen attack the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, killing 61 civilians and six soldiers.

Deaths: Rochus Misch (last survivor of the Führerbunker); Cal Worthington; Ray Dolby (inventor of Dolby surround sound); Kim Hamilton (To Kill a Mockingbird).


1: Beginning of a partial shutdown of the federal government over the debt ceiling crisis that sends liberals into apoplectic fits.
3: A boat carrying Libyan migrants sinks off the Italian island of Lampedusa, killing 359.
16: The government shutdown ends in a deal that merely kicks the can that started the crisis down the road.
21: A student at Sparks Middle School in Sparks, Nevada murders a teacher and wounds two other students before killing himself.  Also: New Jersey legalizes same-sex "marriage."
26: Murder spree, Phoenix, Arizona: gunman murders four and shoots two dogs at their home before committing suicide.
27: Murder spree, Brooklyn, New York: killer stabs his cousin's wife and four children to death, and is later arrested.  Also: the St. Jude Storm strikes northwest Europe, killing 17.
29: Murder spree, Greenwood County, South Carolina: shooter kills five and then turns the gun on himself at a house along Callison Highway.

Deaths: Tom Clancy; Tom Foley (former Speaker of the House); Nigel Davenport (Norfolk in A Man for All Seasons); Marcia Wallace; Lou Reed; Graham Stark (character actor).


1: A gunman opens fire at LAX, killing a TSA employee and wounding several others.
3: Formation of Typhoon Haiyan, which will strike southeast Asia and especially the Philippines, causing more than 6,100 deaths and at least $1.5 billion in damage, and displacing millions of people.
12: Hawaii legalizes same-sex "marriage."
22: Crystal Mangum, false accuser in the 2006 Duke Lacrosse case, is convicted of second-degree murder for the 2011 stabbing death of her boyfriend.
24: For the first time, the relics of St. Peter are publicly displayed for veneration.
28: Comet ISON grazes the sun and (mostly) disintegrates.

Deaths: Paul Walker; Manfred Rommel (son of Erwin Rommel); Jane Kean (Trixie Norton on The Honeymooners); Paul Crouch (televangelist).


2: Pope Francis meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
6: The beginning of an extraordinary wave of cold weather, snow and ice storms that will strike the United States east of the Rockies.
10: Barack Obama humiliates the United States by taking a selfie of himself with the Prime Ministers of Britain and Denmark during Nelson Mandela's funeral.
11: Pope Francis is named Time magazine's Person of the Year.  Also: India's Supreme Court upholds the criminalization of homosexual activities.
13: Snow falls in Cairo, Egypt, for the first time in more than a century.
19: Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame is suspended by A & E for his frank comments about the sinfulness of homosexuality in an interview; the network will later do an about-face as a result of an immense viewer backlash.  Also: New Mexico legalizes same-sex "marriage."
20: The Canadian Supreme Court strikes down that country's anti-prostitution laws.
23: World War II codebreaker Alan Turing is given a posthumous royal pardon for the homosexual acts for which he was was convicted and chemically castrated in 1952.

Deaths: Ray Price; Joan Fontaine; Peter O'Toole; Tom Laughlin (Billy Jack); Eleanor Parker (character actress); Nelson Mandela.

May 2014 be a vast improvement over 2013.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Angelic Children and "Hedge-Priests"

Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson (1871-1914)
Some of the most worthwhile literature, both fiction and non-fiction, is that which leads us to other worthwhile literature.  I came upon something interesting today while re-reading Hillaire Belloc's absorbing Characters of the Reformation.  In his chapter on Elizabeth I of England, Belloc mentions a pamphlet by "Hugh Benson."  This did not mean much to me when I first read this chapter a few years ago; but now that I know who Robert Hugh Benson was, this reference caught my attention.  Robert Hugh Benson was an Anglican priest who entered the Catholic Church in 1903 and was ordained to the Catholic priesthood the following year.  He was also a celebrated author: his excellent novel, Lord of the World (1907) is a fictionalized account of the coming of Antichrist.

The Benson pamphlet in question, published in 1906, compares and contrasts the death of Mary Tudor with that of her sister, Elizabeth, half a century later.  It is shocking, at least to anyone brought up on the mythology of "Bloody Mary" and "Good Queen Bess," and sobering, and provides much food for meditation.

The Death-Beds of "Bloody Mary" and "Good Queen Bess"
By Robert Hugh Benson, M.A.

" 'BLOODY MARY,' a sour, bigoted heartless, superstitious woman, reigned five years, and failed in everything which she attemptcd. She burned in Smithfield hundreds of sincere godly persons; she went down to her grave, hated by her husband, despised by her servants, loathed her her people, and condemned by God. 'Good Queen Bess' followed her, a generous, stout-hearted strong-minded woman, characteristically English; and reigned forty-five years. Under her wise and beneficent rule her people prospered she was tolerant in religion and severe only to traitors; she went down to her grave after a reign of unparalleled magnificence and success, a virgin queen, secure in the loyalty of her subjects, loved by her friends, in favour with God and man. "

So we can imagine some modern Englishman summing up the reigns of these two half-sisters who ruled England successively in the sixteenth century -- an Englishman better acquainted with history-books than with history, and in love with ideas rather than facts.It is interesting, therefore, to pursue our investigations a little further, and to learn in what spirit each of these two queens met her end, what was the account given by those about them, what were the small incidents, comments, and ideas that surrounded the moments which for each of them were the most significant of their lives. Death, after all, reveals what life cannot; for at death we take not only a review of our past, but a look into the future, and the temper of mind with which we regard eternity is of considerable importance as illustrating our view of the past. At death too, if at any time, we see ourselves as we are, and display our true characters. There is no use in keeping up a pose any longer. We drop the mask, and show our real faces.

We should expect, then, if we took the view of the ordinary Englishman, that Mary Tudor would die a prey to superstition and terror; the memory of her past and the prospect of her future would surely display her as overwhelmed with gloom and remorse, terrified at the thought of meeting God, a piteous spectacle of one who had ruled by fear and was now ruled by it. Elizabeth, on the other hand, dying full of honour and years, would present an edifying spectacle of a true Christian who could look back upon a brilliant and successful past, a reign of peace and clemency, of a life unspotted with superstition and unblameable in its religion; and, forward to the reward of her labours and the enjoyment of heaven. There will be no mummery or darkness round her bed, as round her sister's.

Let us turn then to history and see how far our expectations are justified by it.

Our first extract will be from Clifford's Life of Jane Dormer. This lady was one of Mary's greatest friends, a woman of extreme simplicity and beauty of character, who, after refusing many other offers, finally married the Duke de Feria, after her mistress' death. She was in Mary's service during all the years of her reign, and was actually with her when she died.

The Death-bed of "Bloody Mary."

"When it chanced that Jane was not well, as that she could not well attend upon the Queen, it is strange, the care and regard her Majesty had of her, more like a mother or sister, than her Queen and mistress. As in the last days of this blessed Queen, she being at Hampton Court and to remove to London, Jane having some indisposition, her Majesty would not suffer her to go in the barge by water, but sent her by land, in her own litter, and her physician to attend her. And, being come to London, the first that she risked for was Jane Dormer, who met her at the stairfoot and told her that she was reasonably well.

"The Queen answered, 'So am not I,' -- being about the end of August, 1558. So took her chamber and never came abroad again. . . .

"It pleased Almighty God that this sickness was her last, increasing daily, until it brought her to a better life. Her sickness was such as made the whole realm to mourn, yet passed by her with most Christian patience. She comforted those of them that grieved about her, she told them what good dreams she had, seeing many little children, like angels, play before her, singing pleasing notes, giving her more than earthly comfort, and thus persuaded all ever to have the holy fear of God before their eyes, which would free them from all evil, and be a curb to all temptations. She asked them to think that whatsoever came to them was by God's permission, and ever to have confidence that He would in mercy turn all to the best."

[Life of Jane Dormer; sometime Lady-in-Waiting to the Queen, afterwards Duchess of Feria; by Clifford, quoted by Miss Stone.]

Cardinal Pole, who was ill at the same time as the Queen, and who died a few hours after her, thus writes to Philip a few days before her death:

"During her malady, the Queen did not fail to take the greatest care of herself, following the advice of her physicians" (quoted by Miss Stone) and Monsignor Priuli, the Cardinal's friend and secretary, thus writes of the illness and death of them both: --

"During their illness they confessed themselves repeatedly, and communicated most devoutly, and, two days before their end, they each received Extreme Unction; after which it seemed as if they rallied, and were much comforted, according to the fruit of that holy medicine."

One of the things about which Mary was most anxious, was the future of England. It must be remembered that, at that time in English history, a sovereign had a great deal of influence in the appointment of a successor. Perhaps it is not possible to say that Mary could have prevented Elizabeth's succession, but, if she had been the spiteful and revengeful woman that her enemies suppose, she could at least have given Elizabeth a great deal of trouble, by bequeathing the crown to her husband or to some other Catholic claimant. But she was simple enough to trust Elizabeth's word, and to believe that when that lady promised solemnly to preserve the Catholic faith, she meant what she said. After all, Elizabeth had been regular in hearing two Masses a day for at least a year or two; she had protested her orthodoxy even with tears, again and again, and Mary preferred to trust her sister, and to bequeath the crown to her rather than to treat her as one in whom it was impossible to put any confidence. Here is Clifford's account of the matter: --

"Queen Mary in her last sickness sent Commissioners to examine her [Elizabeth] about religion, to whom she answered, 'Is it not possible that the Queen will be persuaded I am a Catholic, having so often protested it?' and thereupon did swear and vow that she was a Catholic. This is confirmed by the Duke of Feria's letter to the King, who in this sickness of the Queen visited the Lady Elizabeth. He certified him that she did profess the Catholic Religion, and believed the Real Presence, and was not like to make any alteration for the principal points of religion." [Life of Jane Dormer, quoted by Miss Stone.] Elizabeth, as we know now, kept her word just long enough to secure her succession; she was crowned with Catholic rites by a Catholic bishop, and then immediately set to work to break her promise. She began by striking at the very heart of the Religion she had sworn to preserve, by her action in forbidding the Elevation of the Host at Mass, and so proceeded to re-establish the "Reformation principles" which she had explicitly abjured. Here is the account which Mr. David Morris B.A. , an historian of strong Protestant views gives of her energy: --

"Thus the Reformation was again the law of England and the work of Pole and Mary faded away. 'The nuns and monks were scattered once more, the crucifixes came down from the roodlofts the Maries and Johns from their niches, and in Smithfield Market, at the cross-ways and street-corners, blazed into bonfires, as in the old days of Cromwell.' . . . These changes were not carried out without much opposition. . . . All the bishops, excepting the Bishop of Llandaff, refused the oath of supremacy, and were consequently deprived of their sees."

It was in this manner that Elizabeth observed her promise made to her sister. However, this is by the way; we must return to our subject.

Of the final scene of Mary's life we have a tolerably detailed account, taken down from the relation of Jane Dormer herself, who was one of the few friends who remained with Mary to the end. Most of her other attendants had already made their way to Hatfield, to pay their court to the Princess who would presently be in power. This account is an interesting comment on the way in which Mary's religion was a support to her in the crisis, and forms an agreeable comparison with the same element in her sister's death nearly fifty years later. Of course Mary's devotion in no way proves the truth of her faith it is only an evidence of her absolute and serene sincerity.

"That morning hearing Mass, which was celebrated in her chamber, she being at the last point (for no day passed in her life that she heard not Mass), and although sick to death, she heard it with good attention, zeal, and devotion, as she answered in every part with him who served the Priest, such yet was the quickness of her senses and memory. And when the priest came to that part to say, 'Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi,' she answered plainly and distinctly to every one, 'Miserere nobis, Miserere nobis, Dona nobis pacem.'

"Afterwards, seeming to meditate something with herself, when the Priest took the Sacred Host to consume it, she adored it with her voice and countenance, presently closed her eyes and rendered her blessed soul to God. This the Duchess [Jane Dormer] hath related to me, the tears pouring from her eyes, that the last thing which the Queen saw in this world was her Saviour and Redeemer in the Sacramental Species, no doubt to behold Him presently after in His glorious Body in heaven. A blessed and glorious passage, 'Anima mea cum anima ejus.'" [From Life of Jane Dormer, quoted by Miss Stone.]

Mary thought it her duty also, in common with most Christian people, to make some provision for the disposal of her body and her goods after her death -- again offering a comparison with Elizabeth's action. She had already impoverished herself with efforts to restore to the service of God what her father had taken "to his own use"; and on her death-bed she made further dispositions in the same direction. In her will and codicil, every page of which she signed painfully with her own hand, she bequeaths her soul to the mercy of Almighty God, and to the "good prayers and help of the most pure and blessed Virgin St. Mary, and of all the Holy Company of heaven"; and her body to be buried at the discretion of her executors. She leaves large sums to the poor, to the Religious Houses which she had re-founded, to the poor scholars at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and to Hospitals, especially to one for disabled soldiers; she also leaves legacies to her ladies and her servants, as well as to her husband and executors. This will was entirely disregarded by Elizabeth, and lay, as Miss Stone remarks, in obscurity for over three hundred years.

So far, then, we are agreeably surprised. There is no terror of the future, or agonised remorse there is repentance, of course, and confession of sin and shortcomings, but that is scarcely to Mary's reproach. There is tranquil confidence in religion and the mercy of God; she encourages her friends, makes her will, trusts her sister, and gives up her soul during what was to her, throughout her life, the most sacred and holy action of the day. Whether or not her religion was true is not our affair now; we are only concerned with the way in which it was her support during her last moments, and even if we are not satisfied as to its objective truth, we can at least be satisfied with its power to uphold one who believed in it with all her heart. In this sense, if in no other, we can say, with Jane Dormer, "A blessed and glorious passage! May my soul be with hers!"

We turn now to

The Death-bed of "Good Queen Bess";

and, if we happen to be of the religion of that lady, and an admirer of her character and achievements, we shall expect to find her last moments marked with the same kind of incidents and aspirations as those of her superstitious sister. If a false religion can give peace and serenity, a true religion can do no less; in fact we might reasonably expect it to do a good deal more, considering the conspicuous advantages that it gave to Elizabeth, at any rate from a worldly point of view. We should expect, also, that a religion which claimed to be an improvement upon Popery should at any rate be free from superstition -- at least in the case of such a professor as the common-sense Elizabeth. Whether that was so or not we shall hear from Elizabeth's companions.

We begin with an extract from the account given by Lady Southwell, one of the women in attendance on her a few weeks before her death: --

"Her Majesty being in very good health one day, Sir John Stanhope, Vice-Chamberlain, came and presented her Majesty with a piece of gold of the bigness of an angel, full of characters which he said an old woman in Wales had bequeathed to her on her death-bed and thereupon he discoursed how the said testatrix, by virtue of the piece of gold, lived to the age of 120 years, and in that age, having all her body withered and consumed, and wanting Nature to nourish her, she died, commanding the said piece of gold to be carefully sent to her Majesty, alleging, further, that as long as she wore it on her body she could not die.

"The Queen in confidence took the said gold and hung it about her neck . . .

" Though she became not suddenly sick, yet she daily decreased of her rest and feeding, and within fifteen days she fell downright ill, and the cause being wondered at by my Lady Scrope, with whom she was very private and confidant, being her near kinswoman, her Majesty told her (commanding her to conceal the same), 'that she saw one night her own body exceedingly lean and fearful in a light of fire.' This vision was at Whitehall, a little before she departed for Richmond, and was testified by another lady, who was one of the nearest about her person, of whom the Queen demanded 'Whether she was not wont to see sights in the night?' telling her of the bright flame she had seen. . . .

Afterwards, in the melancholy of her sickness she desired to see a true looking -- glass, which in twenty years before she had not seen, but only such a one as on purpose was made to deceive her sight, which true looking-glass being brought her, she presently fell exclaiming at all those flatterers which had so much commended her, and they durst not after come into her presence. [LADY SOUTHWELL, quoted by Miss Strickland.]

While Mary sees heavenly children playing and singing about her bed, Elizabeth sees her own body exceedingly lean and fearful in a light of fire, and examines her looking-glass to see if she were really as beautiful as her courtiers declared. But to continue; Sir Robert Carey writes: --

"When I came to Court I found the Queen ill-disposed, and she kept her inner lodging; yet she, hearing of my arrival, sent for me. I found her in one of her withdrawing chambers, sitting low upon her cushions. She called me to her, I kissed her hand, and told her it was my chiefest happiness to see her in safety and in health, which I wished might long continue. She took me by the hand and wrung it hard and said, 'No, Robin, I am not well,' and then discoursed with me of her indisposition, and that her heart had been sad and heavy for ten or twelve days, and in her discourse she fetched not so few as forty or fifty great sighs. I used the best words I could to persuade her from this melancholy humour, but I found by her it was too deeply rooted in her heart, and hardly to be removed . . . From that day forwards she grew worse and worse. She remained upon her cushions four days and nights at the least. All about could not persuade her either to take any sustenance or go to bed." [SIR ROBERT CAREY.]

And again, the French Ambassador writes to his master: -- [March 19.]

"(The) Queen Elizabeth (hath) been very much indisposed for the last fourteen days, having scarcely slept at all during that period, and eaten much less than usual, being seized with such a restlessness that, though she had no decided fever, she felt a great heat in her stomach and a continual thirst, which obliged her every moment to take something to abate it. Some ascribed her disorder to her uneasiness with regard to Lady Arabella Stuart; others to her having been obliged by her Council to grant a pardon to her Irish rebel, Tyrone. Many were of opinion that her distress of mind was caused by the death of Essex; but all agreed that before her illness became serious, she discovered an unusual melancholy, both in her countenance and manner.

[March 22.]

"The Queen of England had been somewhat better the day before, but was that day worse, and so full of chagrin and so weary of life that, notwithstanding all the entreaties of her councillors and physicians for her to take the proper medicine and means necessary for her relief, she refused everything." [DE BEAUMONT, quoted by Miss S.]

"Bloody Mary," then, lies in bed, hearing Mass each morning, receiving the sacraments with devotion and serenity, looking back indeed on a short life that had apparently failed, but to an eternal future which seemed full of hope: "Good Queen Bess," in the midst of honours and success, after a long and magnificent reign, does not sleep; she lies on cushions it is suggested by her friends that her melancholy may arise from having been compelled to pardon her enemy; and there is no word as yet, of religion. It can scarcely, surely, be the past which she regrets! Has she not prospered in all to which she has I put her hand? Can it be death, judgement, and eternity of which she is afraid? And, if so, is it possible that the religion for which she has sacrificed her plighted word, has no comfort for her now?

Her visions, too! Her own body, "exceedingly lean and fearful in a light of fire," -- is that a mere superstition with nothing to justify it, or is it something worse?

Her own kinsman adds another terrible detail or two; let us hear them in Miss Strickland's words:--

"The [Lord] Admiral [Howard] came and knelt beside her where she sat among her cushions sullen and unresigned; he kissed her hands, and with tears implored her to take a little nourishment. After much ado he prevailed so far, that she received a little broth from his hands, he feeding her with a spoon. But when he urged her to go to bed, she angrily refused, and then in wild and wandering words hinted of phantasma that had troubled her midnight couch.

" 'If he were in the habit of seeing such things in his bed,' she said, as she did when in hers, he would not persuade her to go there' . . .

"When Cecil and his colleagues were gone, the Queen, shaking her head piteously, said to her brave kinsman --

" 'My lord, I am tied with a chain of iron about my neck.' The Lord Admiral reminded her of her wonted courage, but she replied, desponding:

" 'I am tied, I am tied; and the case is altered with me.' "

She was carried to bed soon, but again left it. The French Ambassador continues: --

"The Queen continued to grow worse, and appeared in a manner insensible, not speaking above once in two or three hours, and at last remained silent for four and twenty, holding her finger almost continually in her mouth, with her rayless eyes open and fixed on the round, where she sat on cushions, without rising or resting herself, and was greatly emaciated by her long watching and . . . . This morning the Queen's Music (i.e. the choir) has gone to her. I believe she means to die as gaily as she has lived. . . ."


"The Queen hastens to her end, and is given up by all her physicians. They have put her to bed almost by force, after she had sat on cushions for ten days, and has rested barely an hour each day In her clothes."


About this time Lady Southwell adds a significant story: --

"The two ladies-in-waiting discovered the queen of hearts with a nail of iron knocked through the forehead, and thus fastened to the bottom of her Majesty's chair; they durst not pull it out, remembering that the like thing was used to the old Countess of Sussex, and afterwards proved a witchcraft, for which certain persons were hanged."

[LADY SOUTHWELL, quoted by Miss S.]

Let Miss Strickland continue: --

"Lady Guildford then in waiting on the Queen, and leaving her in an almost breathless sleep in her privy chamber, went out to take a little air, and met her Majesty, as she thought, three or four chambers off. Alarmed at the thought of being discovered in the act of leaving the royal patient alone, she hurried forward in some trepidation in order to excuse herself, when the apparition vanished away. Lady Guildford returned, terrified, to the chamber; but there lay Queen Elizabeth, still in the same lethargic motionless slumber in which she had left her."

It is really rather appalling, -- this atmosphere of superstitious fear that lay round the Queen. Whether Lady Guildford was mistaken, or whether that uneasy spirit in some manner manifested itself in the gloom of the gallery, it is impossible to know. But at least we know the mood in which the Court found itself -- this Court which dared not run from this dreadful old woman as its predecessor had run from her sister, to pay homage to the rising sun.

As regards her attitude to her own Church ministers we have the following significant facts. "When she was near her end," writes Miss Strickland, "the Council sent to her the Archbishop of Canterbury and other prelates, at the sight of whom she was much offended, cholericly rating them, 'bidding them be packing,' saying 'she was no atheist, but she knew full well they were but hedge-priests.' "

Did she think then, one wonders, of men who were not "hedge-priests" of her making, but of a Church which claims to rule, not to be ruled by princes: a Church, too, to which she had promised allegiance and with whose rites she had been crowned -- men who under her orders had suffered a death, compared with which the "fires of Smithfield" were mercy itself, for no other crime than that of ministering to the souls of men the Word and Sacraments that were still all but universal in Christendom? Mary had, indeed, burned men for heresy, according to the laws of the realm; it had been left for tolerant Elizabeth, the champion of Private Judgement, to strip and disembowell living priests and laymen for the crime of allowing their Private Judgement to differ from her own. One cannot help wondering whether she now remembered Campion, Briant, Sherwin, and the rest -- and the rack, and the rope, and the butcher's knife, and cauldron; whether the thought crossed her mind that perhaps such men as these might have had a message to her soul that others could not have.

However, it was too late, and as death became imminent, even "hedge-priests" were better than none at all. At least they might soothe her for a few minutes, even if they could no more.

"About six at night," writes Sir Robert Carey, "she made signs for the Archbishop and her chaplains to come to her. . . . Her Majesty lay upon her back, with one hand in the bed, and the other without. The Bishop kneeled by her and examined her first of her faith, and she so punctually observed all his several questions, by lifting up her eyes and holding up her hand, as it was a comfort to all beholders. Then the good man told her plainly what she was, and what she was to come to; and though she had been long a great Queen here upon earth, yet shortly she was to yield an account of her stewardship to the King of kings. After this he began to pray, and all that were by did answer him. . . . The Queen made a sign with her hand. My sister Scrope, knowing the meaning, told the Bishop the Queen desired he would pray still. He did so for a long half-hour after, and then thought to leave her. The second time she made sign to have him continue in prayer. He did so for half an hour more, with earnest cries to God for her soul's health, which he uttered with that fervency of spirit as the Queen to all our sight much rejoiced thereat, and gave testimony to us all of her Christian and comfortable end."

For even such dumb signs as these, interpreted by Carey's charity, I suppose all sincere Christians must be thankful, but they are all the reassurance we can get.

There is no word of repentance or of her desire for God's pardon; there is no suggestion apparentiy from her or from any other that it would be at least seemly for a dying woman to receive what she would have called "the most comfortable sacrament of Christ's body and blood." No; the "hedge-priests" prayed long and loud by the bed; the Queen made occasional signs for them to continue; and the bystanders rejoiced at such a "Christian and comfortable end." That, then, was what the "Reformed Religion," the "glorious light" of which Henry VIII of matrimonial memory was the dawn and Virgin Elizabeth the full-orbed day -- this was all that it could do for her: and, at three o'clock in the morning, "Good Queen Bess" died and appeared before God.

As regards her care for the future and the disposition of her property, we read in Nichols's Progresses that "she made no will, neither gave anything away; so that they which come after find a well-furnished jewel-house, and a rich wardrobe of more than 2,000 gowns, with all things else answerable," -- which must have been a great satisfaction to all concerned.

But all this proves nothing?

Oh, no! it proves nothing!

May, 1906.