WHAT WILL YOU GIVE?

A friend of mine said Lent was here And asked what I’d give up. I smiled and told her, “I dunno, How ‘bout my coffee cup?”   But all day long they haunted me, The words I’d said were trite, So when I fell asleep I knew It’d be no normal night.   I dreamt … Read more

Nuns in the Rain

Thunder roared as rain fell hard Upon the convent chapel. While solemn nuns, in deepest prayer, Waged forth a silent battle.   Their heads were bowed; their souls were sad, So heavy were their hearts. The Papal seat was empty and They had to do their part.   The Pope was gone and conclave on; … Read more

COME LAY YOUR HEAD AGAINST MY HEART

Come lay your head against my heart, I’ll bathe your soul with peace. It’s time you learn to trust me child, Let all your worries cease.   My blood was spilt to save your soul, I washed away your sin. Now open up your heart to love, Allow your Savior in.   “My yoke is … Read more

THE OLD WOMAN AND HER ROSARY

The old woman and her rosary, I see her every day.  With ancient pain deep in her eyes, She grips it tight to pray.   It is her dear companion, Her best friend in time of need. Old fingers dance in silent prayer, Then slide from bead to bead.   She thinks upon its mysteries; … Read more

He Is My Priest, One of My Sons

“No” Mom said, “don’t you ever talk about a Catholic Priest.” You lift them high and pray for them; an Ave in the least!” “Oh fine.” I muttered to myself and headed for the door. Our parish priest was such a grump, so harsh, and quite the bore!   Now here it was a Saturday; … Read more

My First Time

A Lady Discovers the Latin Mass in West Virginia Father Joseph I did it. I finally took myself in hand, determined to find a Sunday Latin Mass in rural West Virginia. The Mass was held at a time (2PM) intended to be convenient for those who might be traveling some distance, in a place, Holy … Read more

Poem: Our Souls, They Are Not Dead

By Donna Sue Barry [sc_embed_player fileurl=”https://www.reginamag.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Our-Souls-They-Are-Not-Dead.mp3″] To hear Donna Sue’s Oklahoma voice, click the arrow! In silence late one evening, I found myself alone, Enjoying for the moment some peacefulness at home. A steamy cup of coffee with a shot of Irish cream, Had lulled me into comfort when I drifted off to dream. The … Read more

Clues to Britain’s Catholic Past

What’s in a ‘Christian’ Name?

The English school application form stopped me dead in my tracks. What was my son’s ‘Christian’ name?

It was long ago in the U.S. that we abandoned this terminology, ostensibly for fear of offending non-Christians. (As a result, many Americans now invent their children’s first names out of whole cloth, with lamentable results. Or name them after celebrities. Actually, sometimes it’s hard to decide which is worse.)

Digressions aside, what exactly, is a Christian name? My Anglican friends think this a very strange question, until I point out that Christian names are actually saints’ names, or biblical names.

Names are manifestations of a culture. For centuries, Catholics, orthodox Christians and many Protestants have given their children the names of saints. This was done as a religious talisman and also as a life-long reminder of the careers of these successful Christians. In some countries people celebrated the feast days of their name saints in lieu of their ‘birth’ days.

Despite reformation and secularism, it is a sign of the ongoing English respect for Christian tradition that the country’s most popular baby names in 2012 still derive from these Catholic sources. It may be a sign that most of us don’t know history that ‘Oliver’ — the third most popular name for boys — is the name of the last Catholic martyr in England (see chart).

Interestingly, the other five of the six top baby names in England are foreign – French, Spanish, Belgian, German and Jewish – saints.  Perhaps this is another cultural clue, harkening back to a time when England was part of an international Catholic civilization?

So, here’s the full Catholic treatment for the top six baby names in England in 2012:

 

2012   Popular Baby Name* The   Saint’s Story The   Saint in Art
BOYS    
  1.   Harry
From St. Henry, Holy Roman Emperor from   1014-1024, the only German monarch ever to be canonized.                                                                    St Henry     
  1.   Jack
From St. John. There are more than 70 saints by   this name, derived from John the Baptist (Jesus’s cousin, depicted right, by   El Greco) or John the Evangelist, one of the four Gospel writers.     Jack
  1.   Oliver
St.   Oliver Plunkett, archbishop of Ireland. On   1 July 1681 (aged 51), Plunkett became the last Roman Catholic martyr to die in England when   he was hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn.     Oliver
GIRLS    
  1.   Amelia
From   Saint Amalberga   of Maubeuge, a Belgian who was the mother of five saints; she died in 773.   There have been several other saints with this name since.     amelia
  1.   Lily
From   Saint Liliosa, a lay woman in Moorish- controlled 9th   century Cordoba, Spain. Lily was cruelly martyred for   appearing in public with her face exposed during the persecutions of Caliph Abderraham II.     Lily
  1.   Emily
St. Emily de Vialar, Foundress of the   Sisters of St. Joseph “of the   Apparition” in France. She is the patron saint of single women and neglected   children.  She died in 1856.       Emily
    SOURCE: http://www.babycentre.co.uk/

The Englishman Who Walked Across America to Win His Bride

Hilaire Belloc

By Robert Beaurivage

We live in times where the idea that ‘everything is relative’ has trumped all. Catholics in the West are now routinely admonished by our neighbors, politicians, academia and the media that our Faith is merely a matter of opinion, just one among many.  Moreover, Catholicism is an opinion that some of our fellow men find particularly inconvenient.

Small wonder that today Catholics seem like a defeated people, befuddled by politics and economics. Gone is the conviction of Jesus’s first disciples when they went forth to “teach all nations.”  

Belloc11As a result of our befuddlement, Catholics now stand in danger of losing our patrimony, our inheritance, and our way through this Valley to the longed-for Paradise in the next.  We also stand to lose everything that can make our way through this life so delightful –‘the Good, the Beautiful and the True’ elements of a Catholic society. 

What can shake us out of our doldrums?  Well, a large dose of ‘the Good, the Beautiful and the True’ would help. Luckily, we have the work of the great early 20th century Anglo-French writer and historian, Hilaire Belloc, to help us in this, our time of great need.

Vigour and humour

After being educated at John Henry Newman’s Oratory School (see article), Joseph Hilaire Pierre René Belloc served his term of military service as a French citizen, with an artillery regiment. He then studied at Balliol College, Oxford, as a History scholar, where he obtained first-class honors.

One of the “Big Four” of Edwardian letters, Belloc’s appreciation for what made the Faith great is second to none.  A Catholic historian with an understanding and love for the Catholic underpinnings that made Western Civilization great, Belloc had the heart of a poet — and the ability to entertain.

This was a great asset, as Belloc publically debated the major figures of his day. H.G. Wells remarked that “debating Mr. Belloc is like arguing with a hailstorm.” Belloc’s review of Outline of History famously observed that Wells’ book was a powerful and well-written volume, “up until the appearance of Man, that is, somewhere around page seven.” Wells’ riposte was a small book, Mr. Belloc Objects. Not to be outdone, Belloc responded with Mr. Belloc Still Objects.

Alas for the humourless and the politically-correct, Belloc wrote some of the most hilarious children’s verse of all time.  Among his best-remembered poems are ‘Jim, who ran away from his nurse, and was eaten by a lion’ and ‘Matilda, who told lies and was burnt to death.’

Belloc was powerfully built, a vigorous man given to long bouts of walking wherever he wanted to go. For example, in the days before online dating he walked from the Midwest to California to woo his San Francisco bride, Elodie. She accepted him, and theirs was a deeply happy marriage blessed with five children until her untimely death from influenza in 1914.

What Would Belloc Say?

Catholics today need to remember the other side of the coin. Despite all our many faults and scandals, we have the Truth.  This is no credit to us, nor a measure of our superiority. The Truth is a gift, a trust given to us by God to pass on to others.

From Hilaire Belloc: Letter to an Anglo-Catholic

“IS there a God? Yes.

Is He personal? Yes.

Has He revealed Himself to men? Yes.

Has He done so through a corporation—a thing not a theory? Has He created an organism by which He may continue to be known to mankind for the fulfillment of the great drama of the Incarnation? Yes.

“Where shall that organism be found? There is only one body on earth which makes such a claim: it is the Catholic Roman Apostolic Church. That claim we of the Faith accept. The consequences of that acceptation are innumerable, satisfactory and complete. We are at home. No one else of the human race is at home.”

On Belloc and Drinking Songs

It will be young Catholics who will be charged with the noble cause of restoring society.  To do this, they must understand our patrimony, that great gift. They must understand what we are, doctrinally as well as culturally.  This is a tall order, to say the least. For example, in the long history of the Faith, the plethora of ancient heresies can result in confusing Arians with Donatists or Manicheans. But you will never forget what a Pelagian is if you have read Belloc’s The Pelagian Drinking Song.

Pelagius lived at Kardanoel

And taught a doctrine there

How, whether you went to heaven or to hell

It was your own affair.

It had nothing to do with the Church, my boy,

But was your own affair.

No, he didn’t believe

In Adam and Eve

He put no faith therein!

His doubts began

With the Fall of Man

And he laughed at Original Sin.

With my row-ti-tow

Ti-oodly-ow

He laughed at original sin.

On a more sober note, Hilaire Belloc can teach us courage.  When Belloc ran for Parliament, his campaign adviser sternly warned him not to speak about his Catholic Faith.  Belloc took this as a challenge, and at the first opportunity addressed a political rally thus:

“I am a Catholic. As far as possible I go to Mass every day. This (taking a rosary out of his pocket) is a rosary. As far as possible, I kneel down and tell these beads every day. If you reject me on account of my religion, I shall thank God that He has spared me the indignity of being your representative!”

There was stunned silence — followed by applause, and to the everlasting credit of his Anglican constituency, they elected Hilaire Belloc to Parliament.

belloc22

Belloc’s Boldness

Belloc’s boldness in the defense of the truth did not always lead to adulation and (worldly) success, however.  Though one of the brilliant writers of his age,  Belloc lived a life of frequent material want due to his lack of acceptance in the literary establishment — which he wore as a badge of honor. The brilliant English scholar and theologian Msgr. Ronald Knox said it best in his panegyric at Belloc’s funeral:

“He was such a man as saw what he took to be the evils of our time in a clear light, and with a steady hatred; that he found, or thought he had found, a common root in them and traced them back to their origins in history.

A prophet… is one who speaks out. He must not wrap up his meaning; he must not expect success. ‘To brazen-faced folk and hard-hearted thy errand is, and still from the Lord god a message thou must deliver, hear they, or deny thee a hearing; rebels all, at least they shall know that they have had a prophet in their midst.’ There is the double tragedy of the prophet; he must speak out, so that he makes men dislike him, and he must be content to believe that he is making no impression whatever.”

belloc33

Belloc: Prophet and Catholic Muse

Belloc put many of the issues we struggle with today into a Catholic perspective.

He refused to view science as the modern dispenser of infallible doctrine. In his essay on Science as the Enemy of Truth, he opines on the “Modern Scientific Spirit” — not to be confused with the Scientific Method.

It adds together numerically a comparatively small number of ascertained truths with regard to any object and then propounds its conclusion, as though by possession of these few gross certainties it had a sufficient basis for that conclusion. What is more, it very impudently puts forward such a conclusion against the sound conclusion arrived at by the powers of integration present in the common man.”

He also predicted the rise of Islam in his book The Great Heresies, and understood the malaise that was coming and what its effects would be.

As a historian, Belloc explodes the historical myths that the English-speaking world grew up with.  To this day, his writings point out the folly of Western Civilization in deviating from those Catholic and Natural Law principles — our patrimony, which has come down to our times.  He regales us with stories of good food, wine, and the real-life characters he meets along the way.  He educates, informs and entertains.

Hilaire Belloc loved Life, but he loved two things best of all: his wife and his Church.  For each he walked many miles on foot in search of his goal.  In his delightful book, The Path to Rome, Belloc describes the journey he made to “see all of Europe, which the Christian Faith had saved.”  He walked from southern France to Rome, to be present at Mass for the Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul. Exhausted, Belloc traversed the last few miles of the Appian Way on a mule-driven cart– with feet dragging so his vow would not be broken.

Stout adventurer, brilliant teacher, great entertainer and fascinating muse — what more can we ask of a writer as we make our way down our own path of pilgrimage, under the banner of Faith, to our heavenly home?

About the author: Robert Beaurivage obtained a law degree in San Diego, and practiced there for awhile before returning back to his home state of Maine. He has an interest in current events, Catholic theology, and liturgy. 

Anglican Convert and Defender of the Catholic Faith

Today, we acknowledge G. K. Chesterton as one of the greatest Catholic minds of the twentieth century, and perhaps its greatest writer. More than 75 years after his death, Chesterton Societies abound in the English-speaking world, and many of his 90 books are in multiple printings.

But who was this man, really – this English convert, formidable intellect, prolific writer and staunch defender of the Catholic Faith?

Gilbert Keith Chesterton was born in London, England on May 29, 1874. Though he thought of himself as a journalist, GKC was actually many things including a playwright, novelist, literary and social critic, poet, illustrator, essayist, apologist, hagiographer and broadcaster.

Chesterton wrote voluminously and brilliantly in most literary genres of the day. His prodigious output includes about ninety books and thousands of essays for London newspapers such as the Daily News, Illustrated London News, and G.K.’s Weekly.

Chesterton’s Early Years
Chesterton was born into a middle-class, liberal Unitarian family and retained fond memories of childhood. “What was wonderful about childhood is that anything in it was a wonder. It was not merely a world full of miracles; it was a miraculous world” (Autobiography, 1936).

GKC attended St. Paul’s School, where he was an academic under-achiever and forgetful student. He enrolled next in the London’s Slade School of Art, making no significant accomplishments. Somewhat later, he attended lectures in English literature at London’s University College. He did not earn a college degree.

Chesterton was a large figure of a man, at 6’ 4”, 300 lbs., cigar-smoking – and sporting a swordstick, cape and sombrero.

GKC’s Career and Marriage
During 1900, Chesterton began publishing essays for periodicals, collections of verse, and fantasies. His writing transformed him from an obscure scribbler into a Fleet Street legend and household name.

GKC was to become a familiar sight on Fleet Street. He was a large figure of a man, 6’ 4”, 300 lbs., cigar smoking, sporting a swordstick, cape and sombrero.

In 1901, Chesterton married Frances Blogg, a devoted Anglo-Catholic. The marriage was a happy one. Unhappily, though, the Chesterton’s could not have children of their own so they frequently entertained other people’s children in their home.

GKC publicly debated the leading figures of his day, including H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, and Clarence Darrow. Despite differences in views, Chesterton’s opponents admired him. He made no enemies. His life exemplified the Christian virtues of charity and humility.

Chesterton’s books, Orthodoxy (his 1908 companion volume to Heretics, 1905) and The Everlasting Man (1925), were destined to become classics of Christian apologetics. The latter book contributed to C.S. Lewis’ conversion to Christianity.

‘Because my name is Lazarus and I live.’

Immediately after his reception into the Church, G.K. Chesterton composed this sonnet:

THE CONVERT

After one moment when I bowed my head
And the whole world turned over and came upright,
And I came out where the old road shone white.
I walked the ways and heard what all men said,
Forests of tongues, like autumn leaves unshed,
Being not unlovable but strange and light;
Old riddles and new creeds, not in despite
But softly, as men smile about the dead.

The sages have a hundred maps to give
That trace their crawling cosmos like a tree,
They rattle reason out through many a sieve
That stores the sand and lets the gold go free:
And all these things are less than dust to me
Because my name is Lazarus and I live.

 

GKC publicly debated the leading figures of his day — H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, and Clarence Darrow. Despite differences in views, Chesterton’s opponents admired him. He made no enemies.

chesterton4

Chesterton Converts to Catholicism. In 1922, GKC converted to the Roman Catholic Church. Frances converted four years later through her own convictions. Hilaire Belloc, the famous Catholic historian, essayist and poet, and Chesterton’s close friend, said, “He advanced towards the Faith over many years and was ultimately in full communion with it…. He approached the Catholic Church gradually but by a direct road. He first saw the city from afar off, then approached it with interest and at last entered. Few of the great conversions in our history have been so deliberate or so mature. It will be for posterity to judge the magnitude of the event.”

Chesterton was motivated to conversion by his concern for legitimate authority. The teaching authority of the Church exemplified a firm point of reference in a changing world. “The Catholic Church is the only thing that saves a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age.”

Even more significant to GKC was the Sacramental authority of the Church to forgive sins. To those critics who believe it is morbid to confess one’s sins, Chesterton replied, “The morbid thing is not to confess them. The morbid thing is to conceal your sins and let them eat away at your soul, which is exactly the state of most people in today’s highly civilized communities.”

“The difficulty of explaining why I am a Catholic is that there are ten thousand reasons all amounting to one reason: that Catholicism is true.”

Furthermore, in The Well and the Shallows (1935), Chesterton explains the role of the Virgin Mary in his conversion:

“I never doubted that the figure (of Mary) was the figure of the faith; that she embodied, as a complete human being still only human, all that this Thing had to say to humanity. The instant I remembered the Catholic Church, I remembered her; when I tried to forget the Catholic Church, I tried to forget her; when I finally saw what was nobler than my fate, the freest and the hardest of all my acts of freedom, it was in front of a gilded and very gaudy little image of her in the port of Brindisi, that I promised the thing that I would do, if I returned to my own land.”

Chesterton said, “The difficulty of explaining why I am a Catholic is that there are ten thousand reasons all amounting to one reason: that Catholicism is true.” He often challenged critics of the Church by turning their arguments around to expose their hollowness. For example, he says, “The most absurd thing that could be said of the Church is the thing we have all heard of it …. that the Church wishes to bring us back into the Dark Ages…. The Church was the only thing that ever brought us out of them”.

“The morbid thing is not to confess your sins. The morbid thing is to conceal your sins and let them eat away at your soul, which is exactly the state of most people in today’s highly civilised communities.”

Few people have applied thought to defending Christianity and Catholicism as successfully as Chesterton. Hilaire Belloc said, “His mind was oceanic, subject indeed to a certain restriction of repeated phrase and manner, but in no way restricted to the action of the mind. He swooped upon an idea like an eagle, tore it with active beak into its constituent parts and brought out the heart of it. If ever a man analyzed finally and conclusively Chesterton did so.”

Chesterton’s Death
GKC died on June 14, 1936 in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. Étienne Gilson, the pre-eminent 20th century Thomist philosopher and historian of medieval philosophy, called Chesterton “one of the deepest thinkers who ever existed.”

 

Shortly after his death, Pope Pius XI declared Chesterton defensor Fidei, Defender of the Faith.

chesterton5
 “The most absurd thing that could be said of the Church is the thing we have all heard of it …. that the Church wishes to bring us back into the Dark Ages…. The Church was the only thing that ever brought us out of them.”
chesterton6
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Thomas Yonan currently resides in California (USA). He’s an avid Chesterton aficionado who enjoys Thomistic philosophy, backpacking, nature studies and hosting a Facebook page about G.K. Chesterton  https://www.facebook.com/G.K.Chesterton

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