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“OMNIPOTENS SEMPITERNE DEUS…” (COLLECT)

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus,
qui abundantia pietatis tuae
et merita supplicum excedis et vota,
effunde super nos
misericordiam tuam,
ut dimittas quae conscientia metuit,
et adicias quod oratio non praesumit.
Per Dominum nostrum Iesum
Christum Filium tuum,
qui tecum vivit et regnat
in unitate Spiritus Sancti,
Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum.

Almighty ever-living God,
who in the abundance
of your kindness
surpass the merits and the desires
of those who entreat you,
pour out your mercy upon us
to pardon what conscience dreads
and to give what prayer does
not dare to ask.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ,
your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

 
 

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WHAT ON EARTH WILL MY PARENTS SAY IF I BECOME A CATHOLIC?

[I DECIDED TO TALK TO A PROTESTANT CAPACITY]… THOSE TALKS BANGED UPON ME AN UNPLEASANT VISTA OF WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN IF I WENT ‘OVER TO ROME’ – THE LOSS OF MY POSITION, MY SALARY, FRIENDS AND ALL; NOT ONLY THE BURNING OF ALL MY BOATS, BUT THE WOUNDING OF MY MOTHER AND FATHER CRUELLY. (FR DUDLEY, RECEIVED INTO THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN 1915)

ALL THIS, AS A SCHOOLBOY, I DRANK IN. AND I BELIEVED IT.

“My first introduction to the Catholic Church was being spat in the eye by a Roman Catholic boy at school. He was bigger than me; so I let it pass. But I remembered he was a Roman Catholic.

My next was at a magic-lantern entertainment to which I was taken by my mother. In the course of it there appeared on the screen the picture of a very old man in a large hat and a long white soutane. I must have asked my mother who it was, and been informed briefly that it was the ‘Pope of Rome.’ I don’t quite know how, but the impression left in my mind was that there was something fishy about the ‘Pope of Rome.’

THERE WAS SOMETHING FISHY ABOUT THE ‘POPE OF ROME’

At school, I learned in ‘English history’ (which I discovered later was not altogether English and not altogether history) that there was something fishy not only about the Pope of Rome, but about the whole of the Pope’s Church. I gathered that for a thousand years or more the Pope had held all England in his grip, and not only England but all Europe; also that during that period the ‘Roman’, ‘Romish,’ or ‘Roman Catholic’ Church had become more and more corrupt, until finally the original Christianity of Christ had almost disappeared; that idols were worshipped instead of God; that everywhere superstition held sway. No education; no science.

I read of how the ‘Glorious Reformation’ had come; how the light of the Morning Star had burst upon the darkness; how the Pope’s yoke had been flung off, and with it all the trappings and corruptions of Popery; of the triumph of the Reformation in England; of the restoration of the primitive doctrines of Christ and the ‘light of the pure Gospel’; of the progress and prosperity that followed in the reign of ‘good Queen Bess’; of the freeing of men’s minds and the expansion of thought released from the tyranny of Rome.

All this, as an English schoolboy, I drank in. And I believed it.

Next, I did a thing that we all of us have to do; I grew up. And I grew up without questioning the truth of what I had been taught.

‘I COULD ONLY SUPPOSE THAT SOMEHOW HE HAD MANAGED TO KEEP GOOD IN SPITE OF BEING POPE OF ROME’

The time came when I decided to become a Church of England clergyman. For this purpose I entered an Anglican Theological college. And there I must confess I began to get somewhat muddled; for I could not find out what I should have to teach when I became an Anglican clergyman. Even to my youthful mind it became abundantly clear that my various tutors were contradicting each other on vital matters of Christian doctrine. My own fellow students were perpetually arguing on the most fundamental points of religion. I finally emerged from that theological college feeling somewhat like an addled egg, and only dimly realising that the Church of England had given me no theology. I appreciated later that it had no system of theology to give.

It was during that period at college that I first of all went out to Rome, on a holiday. And whilst there I managed to see no less a person than the Pope of Rome himself. It was Pope Pius X – being borne into St Peter’s on the sedia gestatoria. He passed quite close where I was standing, and I could see his face very clearly. It was the face of a saint. I could only suppose that somehow he had managed to keep good in spite of being Pope of Rome. That incident left a deeper impression on my mind than I was aware of at that time.

I kept a diary of all that I saw in Rome, and wrote in it: ‘I can quite imagine a susceptible young man being carried away by all this, and wanting to become a Roman Catholic.’ I myself was safe from the lure of Popery, of course.

‘I FELT LIKE TELLING THEM THEY COULD PRAY UNTIL THEY WERE BLUE IN THE FACE’

As a full-fledged Anglican clergyman, I first of all worked in a country parish. At the end of the year, however, my vicar and I came to the conclusion that it would be wiser to part company; for we were disagreed as to what the Christian religion was.

I then went to a parish in the East End of London, down amongst the costers, hop pickers, and dock labourers. I went down there full of zeal, determined to set the Thames on fire. I very soon discovered, though, that the vast mass of the East-Enders had no interest at all in the religion that I professed. Out of the six thousand or so in the parish not more than one or two hundred ever came near the church. Our hoppers’ socials in the parish hall were well patronised, however. Great nights they were, with a thrilling din of barrel organ, dancing, and singing. I found the Donkey Row hoppers immensely lovable and affectionate. We had wonderful days with them each September in the hopfields of Kent. It was social work. The mass of them we could not even touch with religion.

I grew somewhat ‘extreme’ in this parish under the influence of my vicar, to whom at first I was too ‘Protestant.’ I remember he disliked the hat that I arrived in – a round flat one. The vicarage dog ate the hat, and I bought a more ‘priestly’ one.

For a year or two things went fairly smoothly and I suffered from no qualms about the Anglican religion. How far I sincerely believed that I was a ‘Catholic’ during that period I find it difficult to estimate now. Sufficiently at any rate to argue heatedly with ‘low-church’ and ‘modernist’ clergy in defence of my claim.

And sufficiently to be thoroughly annoyed with a Roman Catholic lady who, wherever we met, told me she was praying for my conversion to the ‘true Church,’ and a Franciscan Friar in the hopfields who told me the same. I felt like telling them they could pray until they were blue in the face. I remember, too, that whenever I met a Roman Catholic priest I experienced a sense of inferiority and a vague feeling of not quite being the real thing, or, at least, of there being an indefinable but marked difference between us.

‘WE WERE BOTH FLATLY CONTRADICTING EACH OTHER’

It was when I could no longer avoid certain unpleasant facts with which I was confronted in my work as an Anglican clergyman, that the first uneasiness came.

I was in the house one day of a certain dock labourer who lived exactly opposite our church but never darkened its doors. I chose the occasion to ask him – why not? His reply flattened me out; it was to the effect that he could see no valid reason for believing what I taught in preference to what the ‘low-church bloke dahn the road’ taught. I could not give a satisfactory answer to his challenge. I don’t suppose he believed in either of us really; but he had placed me in a quandary. We were both Anglican clergymen, and we were both flatly contradicting each other from our respective pulpits.

It set a question simmering in my mind – Why should a n y b o d y believe what I taught? And a further question – What authority had I for what I was teaching?

I began, for the first time with real anxiety, to examine the Anglican Church. And with that examination I found I could no longer blind myself to certain patent facts, which hitherto I had brushed aside. The Established Church was a church of contradictions, of parties, each of which had an equal claim to represent it, and all of which were destructive of its general claim to be a part of the Church of Christ – directly one affirmed in its unity.

As far as authority was concerned, it was possible to believe anything or nothing without ecclesiastical interference. You could be n extreme ‘Anglo-Catholic’ and hold all the doctrines of the Catholic Church except the inconvenient ones like Papal Infallibility; you could be an extreme modernist and deny (whilst retaining Christian terms) all the doctrines of the Christian religion. No bishop said Yes or No imperatively to any party. The bishops were as divided as the parties. For practical purposes, if bishops did interfere, they were ignored, even by their own clergy. If the Holy Ghost, as claimed, was with the Church of England, then, logically, the Holy Ghost was the author of contradictions; for each party claimed His guidance. These facts presented me with a quandary which appeared insurmountable, and which remained insurmountable.

I have often been asked, since my conversion, how, in view of them, Anglican clergy can be sincere in remaining where they are. My reply has been – they are sincere. There is a state of mental blindness in which one is incapable of seeing the plain logic of facts. I only know that it was over a year before I acted on these facts myself. And I honestly believe I was sincere during that period. Only those who have been Protestants can appreciate the thick veil of prejudice, fear, and mistrust of ‘Rome’ which hampers every groping towards the truth.

COULD CHRIST HAVE ALLOWED A HOAX, AN IMPOSTURE OF THAT MAGNITUDE? IN HIS NAME? THE CATHOLIC CHURCH WAS EITHER AN IMPOSTOR OR – OR WHAT?

It was about this time that there fell into my hands a book written by a Catholic priest, who himself had once been an Anglican clergyman, who had been faced by the same difficulties, and who had found the solution of them all in the Catholic Church. ‘But the Catholic Church can’t be the solution,’ I said. And there rose before my mind a vision of all I had been taught about her from my boyhood upwards – her false teaching, her corruptions of the doctrines of Christ. The Catholic Church, though, was the Church of the overwhelming majority of Christians, and always had been. If what I had been taught was true, then, for nearly two thousand years the great mass of Christians had been deluded and deceived by lies. Could Christ have allowed a hoax, an imposture of that magnitude? In His name? The Catholic Church was either an imposture or – Or what?

I KNELT FOR HALF AN HOUR BEFORE THE BLESSED SACRAMENT. I CAME OUT TERRIBLY SHAKEN – SPIRITUALLY SHAKEN

I began to buy Catholic books to study Catholic doctrines. To read history from the Catholic standpoint. The day came when I sat looking into the fire asking myself: ‘Is what the world says of the Catholic Church true? Or what the Catholic Church says of herself? Have I all these years been shaking my fist at a phantom of my own imagining fed on prejudice and ignorance?

I compared her Unity with the complete lack of it outside. Her Authority with the absence of anything approaching real authority in the Church of which I was a member and a minister. The unchangeable moral code she proclaimed with the wavering, shilly-shallying moral expediency that Protestantism allowed. She began to look so very much more like the Church that God would have made, just as the Established Church began to look so very much more like the church that man would have made.

When I was passing Westminster [Catholic] Cathedral one day I went in and knelt for half an hour before the Blessed Sacrament. I came out terribly shaken – spiritually shaken. It is impossible to describe ; but in that short half an hour what, until now, I had contemplated as a problem, had suddenly assumed an aspect of imperativeness. A problem that had to be solved, not played with. For within those four walls there loomed up before my spiritual vision an immensity, a vast reality, before everything else had shrunk away. The church, whose clergyman I was, seemed to have slipped away from under my feet.

I returned to the East End dazed. That night amongst the hoppers I felt like a stranger moving about.

MY WHOLE BEING REVOLTED AGAINST THE PROSPECT

I went about for weeks in a state of uncertainty, undecided in my conscience as to whether I was morally bound to face things out or not – wretched under the suspicion that what ‘Rome’ said might be true – that I was no priest: that my ‘Mass’ was no Mass at all; that I was genuflecting before – ?; that my ‘absolutions’ were worthless. The more I prayed about it, the more unreal my ministry appeared.

I decided to consult a certain very ‘extreme’ clergyman, whom I believed sincere beyond question (as he was), and a man of deep spiritual piety. I had three or four talks with him in all, the general result of which was to leave me more confused intellectually than ever, but spiritually more at peace; though it took me months before I realised that this peace was a false one, and that I had shelved the matter not from its intellectual difficulties, but for worldly reasons. For those talks had banged upon me an unpleasant vista of what might happen if I went ‘over to Rome’ – the loss of my position, my salary, friends and all; not only the burning of all my boats, but the wounding of my mother and father cruelly. Even more, ‘Rome’ might not accept me for her priesthood; in any case it would be starting all over again, possibly from baptism. If she did not want me for a priest, I should have to…

My whole being revolted against the prospect. It was impossible – such a demand. I had been carried away by emotions. It was a snare of Satan. I should be a traitor to the Church of my baptism. God had placed me here in the Church of England. He was blessing my work as its minister. He had given me endless graces.

I buried myself in that work again, and for a time succeeded in forgetting, or at least stifling, the fears that had been my torment – until the haphazard remark of a photographer (registering my features), an agnostic I believe, opened my eyes to my inability to defend the Established Church’s position; it was to the effect that if Christianity were true, obviously the Roman Catholic Church, with her authority was right.

AN AGNOSTIC WITH NO AX TO GRIND TOLD ME, ‘IF I WERE RELIGIOUS, I’D BE A ROMAN CATHOLIC.’

It was the testimony of a man who had no ax to grind. A Jewish dentist made the same remark in effect to me shortly afterwards. The man-in-the-street testifies the same with his: ‘If I were religious, I’d be a Roman Catholic.’

Whether it was the photographer or not, my fears were released once more from their repression, abruptly and acutely, and this time I resolved that it should be a fight to the finish, either way – that no worldly or material consideration should interfere. The clergyman whom I had consulted had already made one thing clear in my mind – that the issue between Rome and Canterbury, the crux of the whole problem, was the claim of Rome to be the Infallible teaching authority appointed by God, and the denial by Canterbury of that claim. The whole question boiled down to the question of Infallibility, and on that everything else hung.

WHY SHOULD I STAKE MY IMMORTAL SOUL UPON HUMAN OPINION?

I entered upon an intensive study of the point. I read the history of the doctrine, the Fathers and the Councils of the Church, and what they had to say; examined its rationality. At the end of some months I came to the conclusion – that, as far as Holy Scripture, history, and reason were concerned, the Catholic Church could prove her claim to be God’s Infallible Teacher up to the hilt.

It is difficult after all these years to recapture the exact mode of its appeal to my reason; but it was the appeal that the doctrine of the Infallibility of the Church inevitably presents to any man who is prepared to lay aside bias, prejudice, and preconceptions. I will try to state it in the fewest words possible.

Infallibility is the only guarantee we have that the Christian religion is true. Actually, if I, at the moment, did not believe in an Infallible Teacher appointed by God, then nothing on earth would induce me to believe in the Christian religion. If, as outside the Catholic Church, Christian doctrines are a matter of private judgment, and therefore the Christian religion a mere matter of human opinion, then there is no obligation upon any living soul to believe in it. Why should I stake my immortal soul upon human opinion? For that is all you have if you refuse the Infallible Church.”
– This is part I of “Practical Failure of Anglicanism” by Fr Owen Francis Dudley from “Through Hundred Gates”, The Bruce Publishing Company. Milwaukee, WI, USA: 1938, pp. 308; reprinted in “Christ to the World” (International Review of Documentation and Apostolic Experiences), N 6 Nov-Dec 2009 Vol. 54; email: md2249@mclink.it

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2013 in Prayers for Ordinary Time

 

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“AND WITH YOUR SPIRIT” – NOW THE EUCHARISTIC PRAYERS TRANSLATE INTO EVEN MORE SERVICE FOR CHRIST IN THE NEEDY

“BE INSPIRED BY PRAYER TO GO ABOUT DOING GOOD

For more than 1600 years there was only one Eucharistic prayer said at the heart of the Mass by the priest in silence. It was known as the Roman Canon, the great prayer of consecration after the offertory and from the preface to the Great Amen and the Our Father.

Following the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the 1970s there were four Eucharistic prayers and later on two more for reconciliation and three for Masses for children were added.

In the average parish, Eucharistic Prayer II was the one most frequently used along with Eucharistic Prayer III. The Roman Canon (now Eucharistc Prayer I) was regarded as more formal for traditional occasions and Eucharistic Prayer IV, which was much longer, was only occasionally used.

The Eucharistic prayers were not originally the main concern of the Vatican II group looking at the liturgy but, after the Council, the emergence of a range of Eucharistic prayers emanating from the Dutch, German and French Churches called for a Liturgical Commission to deal with a range of approved Eucharistic prayers as options alongside the Roman Canon.

THE NEW TRANSLATIONS

More recently, getting this new range of Eucharistic prayers into good vernacular languages has been the main task resulting in our recent new English translations.

While the focus at the introduction of the new translations has largely been on appropriate individual words and phrases, the reintroduction of the response ‘and with your spirit’, the commentary around the Eucharistic prayers devoted much time to the introduction of the phrase ‘like the dewfall’ in Eucharistic Prayer II. Without diminishing the need to have the words and phrases well translated, perhaps the concentration on the individual leaves and branches has obscured the trees and the whole wood.

There are now 12 Eucharistic great prayers of thanksgiving to be used at the heart of the Mass, two for reconciliation and others for ‘special needs’ and occasions (such as for Church unity). The last one has been entitled ‘Jesus, Who Went About Doing Good’. The preface of this special Eucharistic prayer reminds us: ‘He always showed compassion for children and the poor, for the sick and sinners, and he became a neighbour to the oppressed and afflicted. By word and deed he announced to the world that you are our Father and that you care for all your sons and daughters,’ calling us, as Pope Benedict put it, to become not mere neighbours but brothers and sisters.

‘TO BECOME NOT MERE NEIGHBOURS, BUT BROTHERS AND SISTERS’

This Eucharistic prayer opens with the words ‘You are indeed Holy and to be glorified, O God, who loves the whole human race and who always walks with us on the journey of life.’ After the consecration, the prayer continues: ‘Open our eyes to the needs of our brothers and sisters, inspire in us words and actions to comfort those who labour and are burdened. Make us serve them truly, after the example of Christ and at his command. And may your Church stand as a living witness to truth and freedom, to peace and justice, that all people may be raised up to a new hope.’

This new Eucharistic prayer sets a tone of real pastoral engagement and practical hope, exhorting us to draw strength from the Eucharist to go out into the daily world to serve those in real need.

We have a practical job to do in our own communities in witnessing to the Gospel. I am not sure about what the ‘special occasions’ are for the use of the Eucharistic prayer of ‘Jesus, Who Went About Doing Good’, but would suggest it could be used more often and not just to reinforce those already involved in the activities of the St Vincent de Paul societies, the mothers’ groups, the knights and Justice and Peace and CAFOD groups, but to underline the need for us all to move with the celebration of the Eucharist to more radical service.

Already building on the work of the SVP, many parishioners are starting to help with food banks, moving towards setting up parish personal debt advice sessions and promoting more credit unions.

Encouragingly, more and more are asking what can we do to practically help and assist. Gathering around the special Eucharistic prayer, ‘Jesus, Who Went About Doing Good’, provides a real driving inspiration for a Church now called to active witness in a world of real, ordinary, daily needs.”
– This article by John Battle, entitled “Be inspired by prayer to go about doing good” was published in “The Catholic Universe”, issue Sunday 16th June, 2013. For subscriptions, please visit http://www.thecatholicuniverse.com (external link)

 

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BY GRACIOUS POWERS SO WONDERFULLY SHELTERED (HYMN)

By gracious powers so wonderfully sheltered
and confidently waiting come what may,
we know that God is with us night and morning
and never fails to greet us each new day.

Yet is this heart by its old foe tormented,
still evil days bring burdens hard to bear;
O give our frightened souls the sure salvation
for which, O Lord, you taught us to prepare.

And when this cup you give is filled to brimming
with bitter suffering, hard to understand,
we take it thankfully and without trembling
out of so good and so beloved a hand.

Yet when again, in this same world you give us
the joy we had, the brightness of your sun,
we shall remember all the days we lived through
and our whole life shall then be yours alone.
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“Von guten Maechten wunderbar geborgen”

 

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ISN’T IT INAPPROPRIATE FOR THE MAYOR TO TRY TO BURY KING RICHARD III IN A NON-CATHOLIC CHURCH NOW?

AN ASTONISHING DISCOVERY

“King Richard III is one of the most maligned characters in English history. Shakespeare portrayed him as an evil scheming hunchback who murdered his own nephews. Every English student knows Laurence Olivier’s gruesome depiction of him in the 1955 classic film. In recent years however, historians have begun to revise their opinions, and an astonishing discovery last summer has reawakened widespread interest in the man and his life. Rather than revealing a wicked tyrant, fresh research seems to show he was a brave, dutiful young man, and a devout Catholic with links to the Franciscan Greyfriars.

Richard, the last of the Plantagenets, had one of the shortest reigns in English history. Killed, aged 32, at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, which left the way clear for Henry VII to take power, it seems he was hurriedly buried in a Franciscan church in Leicester. Known as the Church of the Greyfriars, the structure was completely destroyed 50 years later at the Reformation. While the true whereabouts of his grave was forgotten, rumours spread that his body had been dug up and thrown into a river. From the time of his death, the Tudor propaganda machine began spreading defamatory stories about him that echo to the present day.

A POPULAR LEADER

Not everyone, however, was convinced of these. There is a good deal of contemporary evidence to show that he was a just and popular leader. Cambridge University bravely held a Requiem Mass for him for about 80 years after his death. The Richard III Society have held annual Requiem Masses for him since the 1920s. The Society has long campaigned to restore his reputation, and searched for years to discover where he was buried. Last August, an archaeological excavation by the University of Leicester, discovered the location of a Franciscan Friary (on Friary Street!) in Leicester, under a car park. Philippa Langley from the Society was convinced Richard was there. Amazingly, in the first trench they dug, a skeleton was discovered. ‘It’s almost as if he wanted us to find him,’ said Philippa.

The bones were those of a man about 30 years old. His spine showed signs of a quite severe spinal scoliosis (curved spine), which doctors think would have begun when he was about 12. They said it might not have been very visible if someone was clothed, but it could have been quite painful. There was also evidence of a number of battle injuries, including a large gash on his skull which was probably the blow that killed him.

On 4 February 2013, the University of Leicester confirmed that the skeleton was beyond reasonable doubt that of Richard III. This conclusion was based on mitochondrial DNA evidence; historian Dr. John Ashdown-Hill discovered it was an exact match to a living descendant of the king’s sister; soil analysis, and dental tests. The physical characteristics of the skeleton were also highly consistent with contemporary accounts of Richard’s appearance.

Philippa Langley said, ‘When Richard fell in the battle, he was stripped naked and his scoliosis became known and was used to denigrate him. Today, we find the idea of using physical disability against a person as abhorrent. Let this now be a break from the Tudor medieval mindset.’

INAPPROPRIATE FUNERAL

On 5 February, Professor Caroline Wilkinson of the University of Dundee constructed a forensic facial reconstruction of Richard, based on 3D mappings of his skull. It bears a strong resemblance to a contemporary painting of him. She described the face as warm, young, earnest and rather serious.’

Following the discovery, the Mayor of Leicester announced that the king’s skeleton would be re-interred at Leicester (Anglican) Cathedral in early 2014, and by the same date a Richard III museum will be opened in the Victorian school buildings next to the grave site.

While campaigners welcome plans for the museum many are also calling for the last of the Plantagenet Kings to be given a Catholic funeral and burial.

A petition has now been set up, which reads: ‘The remains of Richard III have been discovered and exhumed. The suggestion is that he will be buried in Leicester Cathedral. However, it seems wholly inappropriate and disrespectful to bury the former Monarch in the grounds of a church of which he never was a member, and which was created by the son of the man responsible for his death and ingnominious burial. I am not petitioning on religious or sectarian grounds, but I believe the dead of any persuasion have a right to be interred in a place appropriate to their beliefs.’ To see the petition go to: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/38533

Dr Ashdown-Hill said, ‘Having played a major role in the recovery of Richard III’s remains (by finding the living DNA link which proved his identity, and as a Catholic who, for many years organised annual Requiem Masses for Richard III and his family, I’d like to support the idea that Richard’s remains should now be given a Catholic reburial. He was a sincerely religious man, and I believe this is what he would have wanted.’

FRANCISCAN LINK

Richard III appears to have had links with the Franciscans. Dr. Ashdown-Hill said, ‘We don’t know why he was buried at the Franciscan friary in Leicester. There were many religious houses there at the time. We don’t know if they were asked or offered to take him. But we know historically that the friary did support his family’s cause. We know Richard III had a Franciscan Friar as his chaplain.

‘Another thing which is intriguing, is that Richard’s sister, Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy, chose to be buried in the Franciscan Friary at Michelin in Belgium. Her instructions were rather strange. She asked to be buried under the steps leading to the choir. This is exactly where we found Richard III at the Friary in Leicester – under steps leading to the choir.’

DEFAMATORY STORIES

Dr. Ashdown-Hill doubted that the story of Richard III killing his nephews (the Princes in the Tower) is true. The Princes in the Tower were Edward V of England and Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York. Then 12 and 9 years old, they were lodged in the Tower of London by Richard himself, who was then the Lord Protector, the Duke of Gloucester. This was supposed to be in preparation for Edward V’s coronation as king. After Richard became king, it is assumed that they were murdered. This may have occurred some time around 1483, but apart from their disappearance, the only evidence is circumstantial.

However, the historian added, ‘There were many other people who would have benefited from their deaths, and the case for their being murdered at all is very shaky. There are accounts of a physician visiting the Tower, and there are also medieval records of Edward (the eldest child) dying of an illness.’

Dr. Ashdown-Hill continued, ‘Richard III’s name has been blackened. But it is completely overlooked that the man who took the crown from him, Henry VII, systematically killed all his opponents.’

The historian went on to say, ‘Richard and his wife Anna were devout Catholics. They gave many chantry endowements (prayers for the dead). They endowed King’s College and Queens’ College at Cambridge University. Richard planned the establishment of a large chantry chapel in York Minster, with over 100 priests.’

PERSONAL PRAYERBOOK

Dr. John Ashdown-Hill, author of ‘The Last Days of Richard III’, revealed other fascinating details, ‘Richard’s prayerbook is at Lambeth Palace in London (the headquarters of the Archbishop of Canterbury). Many people had these beautiful illuminated Books of Hours – often they were like a modern coffee table book to browse into occasionally. But Richard III’s is not like that. He has added little prayers and notes of his own. That shows that he didn’t just have one, but that he used it. It’s interesting the way it has survived. Contemporary records say a prayerbook was found in his tent at the Battle of Bosworth. They say it was given to his sister Margaret. The one at Lambeth Palace has her name on it. So it’s likely that’s the one he used before the battle. It is also said that he owned a Bible in English. His sister was also very devout and, like her brother, a reformer aswell.’

PROGRESSIVE MONARCH

In his short reign, Richard achieved a number of progressive reforms. In 1483 he instituted what later became known as the Court of Requests, a court to which people who could not afford legal representation could apply for their grievances to be heard. He also introduced bail in January 1484 to protect suspected felons from imprisonment before trial and to protect their property from seizure during this time. He banned restrictionson the printing and the sale of books, and ordered the translation of written Laws and Statutes from the traditional French into English.

Philippa Langley is a writer and is currently working on a film script on the life of Richard III. Dr. Ashdown-Hill is writing a book about Richard’s sister Margaret, and he is also investigating the story of the Princes in the Tower. The scholar concluded, ‘What we have achieved is not the end. As a historian I’m concerned about finding the truth and respecting people’s reputations.'”
– This article by Josephine Siedlecka entitled “Villain or Hero?” was published in “Messenger of Saint Anthony”, issue May 2013. To subscribe, please contact: Messenger of Saint Anthony, Basilica del Santo, via Orto Botanico 11, 35123 Padua, Italy

 

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GOOD CHRISTIANS ALL, REJOICE / CHRIST IS BORN TODAY (CHRISTMAS CAROL)

1. Good Christians all, rejoice
with heart and soul and voice;
give ye heed to what we say:
Jesus Christ is born today;
ox and ass before Him bow,
and He is in the manger now:
Christ is born today,
Christ is born today!

2. Good Christians all, rejoice
with heart and soul and voice!
Now ye hear of endless bliss:
Jesus Christ was born for this.
He hath opened heaven’s door,
and we are blest for evermore:
Christ was born for this,
Christ was born for this.

3. Good Christians all, rejoice
with heart and soul and voice!
Now ye need not fear the grave:
Jesus Christ was born to save;
calls you one, and calls you all,
to gain His everlasting hall:
Christ was born to save,
Christ was born to save.

– J. M. Neale

 
 

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WE THREE KINGS OF ORIENT ARE (CHRISTMAS CAROL)

1. We three Kings of Orient are;
bearing gifts we traverse afar,
field and fountain, moor and mountain,
following yonder star.

O Star of wonder, star of night,
star with royal beauty bright,
westward leading, still proceeding,
guide us to thy perfect light.

2. Born a King on Bethlehem plain,
gold I bring, to crown him again,
King for ever, ceasing never,
over us all to reign.

3. Frankincense to offer have I,
Incense owns a Deity nigh.
Prayer and praising, all are raising,
worship him, God most high.

4. Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
breathes a life of gathering gloom;
sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
sealed in the stone-cold tomb.

5. Glorious now behold him arise,
King and God and sacrifice.
‘Alleluia, alleluia!’
earth to heaven replies.

– John Henry Hopkins

 
 

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