Four Sermons Delivered at St. Patrick's Cathedral
New York, on the Sundays of Advent, 1913
ABBOT-PRESIDENT OF THE ENGLISH BENEDICTINES
WITH A PREFACE BY
Archbishop of New York
January 3, 1914
HIS EMINENCE CARDINAL FARLEY
ARCHBISHOP OF NEW YORK
THESE SERMONS DELIVERED AT HIS
REQUEST IN HIS CATHEDRAL
AS A SMALL TOKEN OF SINCERE RESPECT
THE Rt. Rev. Francis Aidan Gasquet, Abbot-General of the English Benedictines and Chairman of the Commission appointed for the revision of the Vulgate or Latin Bible, gave a course of sermons at the High Mass in St. Patrick's Cathedral on the Sundays of Advent, 1913, on "Catholic Principles abandoned at the Reformation."
These sermons attracted very wide attention. The subject chosen, while seemingly a familiar one, proved most interesting to the vast congregations, drawn by the fame of the preacher as a historian of the Reformation period. His manner of treatment had much to do with the profound interest manifested by his listeners. All attempt at pulpit oratory was cast aside, and the preacher confined himself to a clear unvarnished tale of the causes that led up to the so-called Reformation. He showed himself a complete master of the question. As announced in his opening sermon, the Rt. Rev. Abbot did not seek to be controversial, but purely historical, and this purpose he followed to the end, basing all his statements on documents whose authenticity could not be called in question. He made clear what Cardinal Manning has so often repeated, that England did not give up the Catholic faith of centuries, but was simply robbed of it.
It was my pleasure to be present at all the sermons, and to be held under the spell of his simple eloquence, and to experience the appeal his strong arguments must have made. The main thesis which the learned Abbot sought to establish was that the doctrines of the Church in England had been reconstructed under Lutheran and Calvinistic influence, and the cultural beliefs held by the Church from the time of Christ had been rejected. This was especially true of the priesthood. By Act of Parliament a new form of ordination, carefully and systematically excluding every word that could be interpreted to mean that the candidate was to be a sacrificing priest, was introduced.
In these days when there is a strong movement on foot without the fold, to restore the unity of the Christian faith, we can indulge the hope that the four lectures of the distinguished Abbot will prove fruitful. They are on subjects so vital to unity; i. e. the Supremacy of the Pope, the Sacrifice of the Mass, the Eternal Priesthood, the Universal Church. We pray that these sermons will attract the attention of many outside the Church, and make them meditate on the bitterness of breaking from their "Father's House." May God's holy grace prove stronger than prejudice, as it has so often in the past, and may it soften the hearts which have been hardened by cruel legislation rather than by wilful disobedience.
Archbishop of New York.
|I||THE POPE'S AUTHORITY|
|II||THE HOLY MASS|
|IV||THE CHURCH BY LAW ESTABLISHED|
TO-DAY we begin the work of Advent. During these weeks of preparation for the great feast of Christmas it is usual and useful to turn our thoughts to some of the great principles upon which our faith as Catholics is grounded, in order that we may realise more fully all that our Blessed Lord's coming into this world has done for mankind in general and for our individual souls in particular. It will not therefore be altogether foreign to this purpose if during these Sundays of Advent I ask your consideration of certain Catholic principles which appear to me to have been deliberately abandoned in the great religious revolution of the sixteenth century, known as the Reformation, but to which our Catholic forefathers in England and in Ireland clung with heroic constancy and for which they suffered loss of worldly goods and even laid down their lives.
And first, I should at the outset like to disclaim any desire to enter into mere matters of controversy. In these days, when so many aspirations and prayers for a return to Christian Unity are being uttered and which in the face of the common enemy find an echo in the heart of every Catholic, the bitterness engendered by the controversial spirit is, to say the least, wholly foreign to the work of Union. But as a first step to that Christian Unity we all pray for, it is surely necessary to recognise the points of departure, out of which our differences have grown. We cannot proceed far along the path towards agreement unless we understand how we first began to differ, and therefore, not in any spirit of bitterness or controversy. I desire to speak of facts as they seem to me, and to point out what was really done at the time of the Reformation in England, which still has obvious consequences in all English-speaking countries. As far as I am concerned at present those who hold that what was done in regard to religion in the sixteenth century was well done may continue to hold this belief. All I desire at this time is to ascertain what was done.
Now the first point of attack made on the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church was upon the spiritual jurisdiction of the Pope. We Catholics hold and believe that our Lord came down on earth and became man to redeem us, not as a mere historical fact, which was once done and completed by His death upon the Cross, but that the work of this redemption was to be applied to the individual soul, through the work of the Church He established on earth. This Church was to minister to souls through the Sacraments He instituted, the grace He had purchased for them by His Passion and Death, and it was to be the fount of all truth and teaching. We Catholics further believe and hold that our Lord established this His church upon the authority of St. Peter and his successors, as the necessary basis of unity of faith and discipline. To us this seems so certain that it is inconceivable that our Lord, who was God and had all knowledge of the working of the human heart and mind, should not have provided some such an authority as that of the Pope, as the necessary bond of unity of the Faith. Mind, I am not proving this in any way: I am but stating it as the firm and unchanging belief of Catholics.
Up to the time of King Henry VIII., and indeed till the end of the first half of his reign, this, which is our belief, was that of England and Ireland in common with all other parts of Christendom before the revolt of Luther a few years before in Germany. Of this I do not think there can be much doubt, except perhaps in the minds of professional controversialists. Let me give a few examples of English teaching on the subject. In the University of Oxford, up to the Reformation, there was no more honoured theological authority in the schools, than the celebrated Duns Scotus. This is what he taught as to papal authority: "It is of faith that the ever Holy Roman Church, which is the pillar and ground of all truth and against which the gates of hell cannot prevail, admits of no error and teaches the truth. Hence they are excommunicated as heretics who teach or hold anything different from what She teaches and practises." This is clear enough teaching: and no less clear is the declaration made by the representatives of England and Ireland in the Council of Florence, which was held in A. D. 1417, a century and more before the breach with Rome. At that Council there were present more than a hundred British Bishops and Prelates. Peculiar circumstances called for a declaration of their loyalty to the Universal Church, and this is one clause in that declaration: "Moreover the Kingdom of England, thanks be to God! has never swerved from its obedience to the Roman Church: it has never tried to rend the seamless coat of Our Lord: it has never endeavoured to shake off its loyalty to the Roman Pontiffs."
Ten years later again, in 1426, Pope Martin V. in a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, states as a recognised fact, that not only had the Roman Pontiffs supreme authority as a fact, but that this authority was derived as of divine institution from our Lord Himself and he tells the archbishop that he is bound to protect "the rights and privileges of the Roman Church and the Apostolic See, which Christ Himself gave by His divine Word, and not men." This is the distinct claim put forth by the Pope, and Archbishop Chicheley in his reply, made on behalf of the English Church, fully and frankly admits this claim, and makes it quite clear that the traditional teaching of the English Church in regard to the Papacy was that it was of divine institution and not that its authority was of ecclesiastical institution, and still less that England or Ireland had ever given its obedience to the Pope on grounds of national policy or expediency and not on a dogmatic basis. The matter is put clearly enough to remove all doubt in the letter addressed to the Pope by the University of Oxford at the same time as that of Archbishop Chicheley in behalf of the English Bishops. "We recognise in your beloved person (that of. Pope Martin V.) the true Head. We profess without doubt and from our hearts (that you are) the one Supreme Pontiff, the Vicar of Christ on earth and the true successor of St. Peter."
That this remained the firm and unshaken faith of the Church and people of England and Ireland right up to the final breaking away from Rome we have ample and positive proofs. Out of many I will cite one testimony. When the teachings of the reformer, Luther, began to find adherents in other lands, King Henry VIII., with the help of Bishop Fisher, himself composed a book in defence of the Sacramental teaching of the Church. This volume was taken to Rome by one of the English Bishops and presented to the Pope in full Consistory on October 2, 1521. On behalf of Henry, the envoy in the presence of all the Cardinals and Ambassadors made public declaration of the entire loyalty of the English nation to the Holy Roman Church and its Supreme Pontiff. "Of other nationalities," he says, "let others speak. But assuredly my Britain—my England, as in later times she has been called—has never yielded to Spain, never to France, never to Germany, never to Italy, never to any nearer nation, no, not even to Rome itself, in the service of God and in the Christian faith and in the obedience due to the Most Holy Roman Church; even as there is no nation which more opposes, more condemns, more loathes this monster (i. e. the Lutheran apostasy) and the heresies which spring from it." It was for the volume then presented and for the declaration then made that Henry received the title of "Defender of the Faith" from the Pope.
Suddenly and almost as a bolt from the blue, difficulties between the King of England and the Pope began to show themselves. Grave events often spring from slight causes, and, whatever may be said by professional controversalists, there can be no doubt that it was a mere love affair of Henry VIII., which initiated the royal policy and finally dragged England into schism and heresy.  To some, people, indeed, in these days the action of the Pope in refusing to allow Henry to have his own wilful way in putting aside his wedded wife, Katherine, and to marry another woman, with whom he had had illicit relations, may appear to have been the height of unwisdom. Certainly as a result it has had the most disastrous consequences to the English Church. But this at least all must confess: that the Pope's courageous action is a manifest proof of the impossibility of ecclesiastical authority interfering without right reason with the indissoluble sanctity of a true Christian marriage.
 This statement was challenged in the press. It is difficult to see how it can be questioned by anyone who has read the history of this period. Those who are interested may be referred to an excellent article in America for Dec. 20, 1913, "What to say and how to say it."
To obtain the support of Parliament the King suggested that the nation had incurred the extreme penalties of praemunire by admitting the legatine powers of Cardinal Wolsey, even though this had been done with his royal knowledge and authority. His lay subjects were at once pardoned for a mere technical offence against the statute laws, but the clergy were excluded, in order to hold the penalties in terrorem over them. With his royal hand on the throats of his ecclesiastical subjects he demanded a recognition of his Headship over the Church in England, and finally Convocation, after a debate which extended over two and thirty sessions, gave an unwilling assent to a clause admitting the King as "the Protector and Supreme Head" of the English Church. This was the thin edge of the wedge by which the cleavage from Rome and the Pope was subsequently effected. At the time, there can be no doubt that the inward meaning of the acknowledgment was not understood. Dean Hook says that the statement was not "regarded as inconsistent with the legitimate claims of the papacy," and as Froude admits, it is certain that "the title was not intended to imply what it implied when, four years later, it was conferred by Act of Parliament, and when England virtually was severed by it from the Roman Communion."
In 1532 by an Act entitled "The Submission of the clergy" the king received their pledge not to legislate in ecclesiastical matters in Convocation without his royal leave. By this "Submission" the English Church deprived itself of all corporate action; and in the same year the aged Archbishop Warham died. "We cannot doubt," writes the late Dr. James Gairdner, the most competent judge of the events of this reign and himself not a Catholic, "We cannot doubt that the event (i. e. the death of the Archbishop of Canterbury) at once suggested to the King a new method of achieving his end" and divorcing Queen Katherine. He obtained from the Pope the appointment of Thomas Cranmer, a priest who in defiance of the canons had secretly married in Germany the niece of Osiander, the German Reformer, as a second wife.
Having secured this appointment from the Holy See, the King directed Cranmer to consider the divorce question, and the decree having been pronounced by the subservient archbishop, Henry made Anne Boleyn his Queen on June 1, 1533. Six months later the Convocations of Canterbury and York, under strong royal pressure formally accepted the declaration that "the Bishop of Rome has not in Scripture any greater jurisdiction in the Kingdom of England than any foreign bishop." Finally in March, 1534, the severance of England from Rome ecclesiastically was effected by the Supreme Head act which styled the King the only "Supreme Head in earth of the Church of England" and granted him the most ample powers of ecclesiastical Visitation. Then the final touch was given to the work by the Act of Verbal Treasons, by which it was declared to be high treason to "imagine" any bodily harm to either the King or Queen or "to deprive them of their dignity, title, style," etc.
The change had now been effected: England was cut off from the jurisdiction of Rome. Some men, like the Venerable Bishop Fisher, Blessed Sir Thomas More, the heroic Carthusians and others, refused to burden their consciences by taking the required oath and preferred imprisonment and death. For the most part the clergy and monastic houses gave way and did what was required of them. But there can be little doubt that the nation at large disliked the King's proceedings. In spite of the act for Verbal Treasons, which was wide enough to catch anyone guilty of a mere expression of opinion, "on no other subject during the entire reign have we such overt and repeated expressions of dissatisfaction with the King and his proceedings," as Dr. Gairdner with the fullest knowledge of this period declares. For, as he says, "the ecclesiastical headship was without precedent and at variance with all tradition:" . . . "It was a totally new order in the Church."
My purpose does not lead me to speak of the exercise of ecclesiastical jurisdiction by the King, in virtue of this new Headship over the Church. As, by virtue of his authority, he had bidden Archbishop Cranmer to pronounce the sentence of divorce, which the Pope had refused, so in the dissolution of the religious houses, he pronounced the monks and nuns in his kingdom freed from the vows they had made to God. In the exercise of the royal supremacy in matters ecclesiastical he appointed Thomas Crumwell, a layman, his Vicar General, and in this capacity, Crumwell presided at all meetings of Bishops and regulated all discussions upon spiritual affairs.
There were various other religious changes initiated during the remainder of this reign, like the destruction of shrines and the prohibition of devotion to the saints, but it is one of the perplexing problems of this time why there was not a more radical reconstruction of religion in England upon the lines of the Lutheran principles of the Reformation. The fact is that, though for his own purposes Henry was willing enough to get rid of the Pope, he was never a Lutheran at heart. He had defended Catholic principles against the German Reformed doctrines in his work on the Seven Sacraments. He never wholly lost his Catholic instinct, and to the last he maintained with a strong hand the ancient Catholic Sacramental teaching, and in particular in regard to the most Holy Eucharist and the doctrine of Transubstantiation. In this regard the reforming party, as long as he lived, was kept in check and had to wait for the King's death to secure further changes.
To us Catholics, by the act of cutting England from Rome, the principle of Christian Unity was rejected and sacrificed. The branch cut from the tree no longer feeds upon the sap of the parent stock, and disintegration is merely a matter of time. We who look back over the centuries, which have passed since the severance of the English Church from Union with Rome was effected, can see how the disintegration as to doctrine, has gone on ever since. Few can deny that it is still proceeding at a rate, which is rightly alarming those who still cling even to the shreds of the religious formularies evolved in the Reformation settlement. Hundreds of religious bodies, all claiming to be Christian and all differing on vital and essential matters of belief, can be seen round about us to-day. The process of division is still going on and it must continue where there is no authority to speak with a divine commission. We Catholics, as we review this chaos, may well thank God that our English and Irish forefathers have fought and suffered to maintain for us the Christian principle of a Supreme authority in religion.
TO-DAY I propose to speak about the Most Holy Eucharist. The Sacrifice of the Mass is the central doctrine of our religion. In it, as we Catholics firmly believe, there is renewed on the Christian altar the sacrifice of Calvary, and by God's power, at the words spoken by the priest, the bread and wine is changed into the very Body and Blood of our Lord. The word used by the Church to express this change of substance is Transubstantiation; and in the mystery of our Faith we hold that we have, under the outward appearances of bread and wine, the true and real presence of our Blessed Lord. As truly and as really as our Saviour, God and man, walked this earth in the days of His pilgrimage, blessing the sick, curing diseases at His touch, and teaching the way of life to the multitudes, so do we firmly believe and hold, that He is amongst us to-day under the Eucharistic forms, ready to help and encourage the weary, to console the afflicted, to bring the assurance of His pardon to the penitent.
I am not proving this. I am only stating it, as the firm faith we hold as Catholics. Moreover, not only is the Mass our Christian Sacrifice; but in the Holy Eucharist we have the food of our souls and the proper sustenance of our spiritual life in this world. We hold and truly believe that in Holy Communion we receive really and in fact, and not in any mere figurative sense, our Blessed Lord Himself—Body, Soul and Divinity. This is our faith to-day as it was the unbroken belief of the Catholic Church from the earliest tunes. All round about us now we see other religious bodies, claiming to be Christian which do not share our teaching, and it is good to try and understand how this has come about. The key to the explanation lies in the teaching of Reformation principles in the sixteenth century.
When Henry VIII. died, on January 25, 1547, for the first time in history the king had made himself supreme not only in affairs of State but in religion. Many minor changes, besides the destruction of the religious life and the suppression of the monasteries, naturally marked and followed upon the rejection of the Catholic principle of papal authority and the assumption by the king of Supreme Headship over the Church in England. The hopes, entertained by the German Reformers of being able to obtain the adherence of the king and people of England to their reformed doctrines, were disappointed during Henry's life. On his death their hopes revived. Edward VI., a boy, only nine years of age, succeeded to the throne, and the supreme power in the State was seized by those whose sympathies were known to be on the side of the German Reformation. The Lord Protector, Somerset, became the highest authority in the State, and Archbishop Cranmer, for years a Lutheran at heart, was the chief ecclesiastic in the realm.
As one of the first acts of the reign, all the bishops were compelled to take out fresh Commissions from the Crown for the exercise of their episcopal offices. In this Cranmer set a willing example of obedience; and in the preamble of the new Letters Patent the royal power was set forth as the source of all jurisdiction, civil and ecclesiastical.
Within a month of Edward's accession, the images of saints in the London churches were dishonoured and mutilated, and sermons were preached, without punishment or rebuke, against the observance of Lent and other Catholic practices. Other changes in the line of the Reformation followed quickly one upon another. Images, shrines and pictures of Our Lady and the Saints were ordered to be destroyed, and the Litany of the Saints, hitherto said in procession, was made into a prayer to be said kneeling. All this was a sufficient indication of the trend of mind in the men now in power towards the Reformation doctrines of Luther and the other continental heretics.
For objecting to these changes some of the bishops were lodged in prison, and in the course of a general Visitation of churches in the diocese of London, whilst the Bishop was in prison, the images in St. Paul's and other city churches were pulled down and broken up; the painted pictures and frescoes upon the walls—"the books of the poor and unlearned" as they were called—were covered with whitewash, and in their place the Ten Commandments were written upon the plaster.
The first Parliament of this reign met in November, 1547, and the important matter—from a religious standpoint—discussed and settled was the introduction of Communion under both kinds—or as some modern writers put it "the restoration of the cup to the laity." This change, significant as it was, might mean little more than the rejection of a disciplinary law of the Church, which had been introduced many ages before for wise and obvious reasons. But to those who will study the history of the controversies of the sixteenth century, the reintroduction of Communion under both kinds was an outward manifestation of the rejection of the Catholic Eucharistic doctrine, which taught that our Blessed Lord was present, whole and entire, Body, Soul and Divinity in each and every portion of the Most Holy Sacrament. And, as St. Thomas teaches in his dogmatic hymn of the Holy Eucharist, in every part and portion, "integer accipitur"—is received whole and entire in Holy Communion. The history of the passage of this measure through Parliament makes it clear that many of the Bishops and other prominent ecclesiastics were opposed to this departure from existing Catholic usage and that it was in reality imposed by the authority of Parliament upon the Church under the plea that it was "conformable to primitive practice." The Bill was but the beginning of other and more important changes. The replies made at this time by Cranmer and other innovating prelates to certain questions upon the nature of the Mass leave no doubt as to the lengths they were prepared to go ha the direction of Lutheran Eucharistic doctrine. The archbishop declared that "oblation and sacrifice" were terms improperly used about the Mass, and that it was only a "memory and representation of the sacrifice of the Cross." In other words, Cranmer and the four other English bishops who agreed with him, rejected the Sacrifice of the Mass as it had hitherto been received in England as in every other part of the Catholic world.
To carry out the new order of Communion a form, founded upon the celebrated work of Herman the Archbishop of Cologne, which had just appeared in an English translation, was issued and ordered to be inserted in the Latin Mass. The process of spoliation of the Church begun in the reign of Henry VIII. was continued. A bill, strongly opposed by churchmen, was passed in the House of Lords, giving to the Crown all colleges, free chapels and chantries as well as the property of all guilds and fraternities. By this measure the gravest injustice was done to the members of the guilds, which were the charitable associations, insurance societies, burial and sick clubs of Catholic England. The funds thus confiscated for the most part represented the savings of the poor. Moreover, religion suffered the gravest injury by the confiscation of the chantry funds and the revenues for anniversary prayers for the dead. These were in many cases at least intended to supply the services of additional curates for the work of larger parishes and for annual gifts to the poor.
In the second year of the King's reign Cranmer intimated that the Council had ordered the discontinuance of the old Catholic practices of blessed candles, blessed ashes and blessed palms, as well as the Good Friday ceremony of honouring the crucifix, known as "creeping to the cross."
All these changes were, however, only indications of the more serious attack on the Catholic doctrine of the Holy Eucharist, which was being engineered by the now almost openly avowed English Reforming party, headed by Cranmer. On December 14, 1548, a draft of a new Prayer Book in English to supersede the ancient Missal and Breviary was introduced into the House of Lords and there followed a long debate upon the doctrine of the Blessed Sacrament, contained in the service, which was intended to take the place of the ancient Mass. This part of the new Book of Common Prayer has a special interest and significance.
In the course of this debate it appeared clearly that Archbishop Cranmer had given up all belief in the Catholic doctrine of Transubstantiation and in the sacrificial character of the Eucharist. In the account of this discussion it also appears that the word "oblation," which had been left in the proposed new Canon when the draft was shown to the Bishops, had been struck out of the document presented to Parliament for its approval, without their knowledge or consent. On January 15, 1549, Parliament by statute approved the new form of service to take the place of the Mass; its authority being simply a schedule of an act of Parliament; the Church in synod or convocation almost certainly having had nothing to say in this vital matter of doctrine and practice.
It is not infrequently asserted that after all, except that the new Communion service was in English, there was little or no change made in form or substance. In other words, that the office of Communion, in the First Prayer Book of Edward VI.—the Book of 1549—was the Latin Mass translated into English. Whatever else it was, whether a return to primitive observances or an adaptation of ancient foreign liturgies, or any other thing of the same nature, it was most certainly not a translation; not even a free rendering of the Latin Mass into the vernacular.
Those who are familiar with the Latin Missal, or those who will take the trouble to examine it, will see at once that the Mass consists mainly of two parts,—the first a preparation for and leading up to the second. In the former we have the prayers and supplications with passages of Holy Scripture from the Epistles and Gospels, selected by the Church as appropriate to the feast or Sunday upon which they are read. In this part also we have the ceremonial offices arranged for the offering of the bread and wine prepared for the Christian Sacrifice, accompanied by prayers expressing the idea of sacrifice and oblation.
Thus, for example, at the offering of the bread the priest says these words: "Receive, O Holy Father, Almighty and Everlasting God, this spotless Host," etc. When he offers the chalice with the wine and water in it he says: "We offer up to Thee, O Lord, the chalice of Salvation, beseeching Thee of Thy mercy that our sacrifice may ascend with an odour of sweetness in the sight of Thy Divine Majesty," etc.; and he adds: "May the Sacrifice we this day offer up be well-pleasing to Thee." Finally, bowing down before the altar, the priest says: "Receive, O Holy Trinity, this oblation offered up by us to Thee," etc., and, turning to those who are assisting, he says: "Brethren, pray that this sacrifice, which is both mine and yours, may be well-pleasing to God the Father Almighty." To this the people through the server reply: "May the Lord receive this sacrifice at your hands," etc. Everyone who will carefully examine these prayers must see that the main idea contained in all is that of sacrifice and oblation. In the same way the prayer called the Secret, which follows upon the offering of the bread and wine for the Sacrifice, though it varies with the feast celebrated, practically always contains some mention of the oblation or victim to be offered. Thus on this, the second Sunday of Advent, the Secret prayer contains these words: "Be appeased, we beseech Thee, O Lord, by our prayers and by the sacred Victim we humbly offer," etc.
In the second part of the Holy Mass we shall find, if we use our Missals, or Mass books, that there is one unchanging ritual formula called the "Canon," during which the words of Consecration are pronounced by the priest over the bread and wine. By the efficacy of these words, as we Catholics believe, the substance of the bread and wine are changed by God's power into the Body and Blood of Christ; and in this Sacred Canon the Christian sacrifice is perfected. Naturally we should expect to find in this solemn part of the Mass the same idea of sacrifice and oblation clearly expressed. And so it is. The priest begs Almighty God "to receive and to bless these gifts, these oblations, these holy and spotless hosts, which we offer up to Thee;" and "to be appeased by this oblation which we offer." Again he prays: "Vouchsafe to bless this same oblation, to take it for Thy very own . . . so that on our behalf it may be made into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ," etc. To this he adds: "Wherefore we offer up to thine excellent Majesty . . . a Victim which is pure, a Victim which is holy, a Victim which is stainless, the holy Bread of life everlasting and the Cup of eternal salvation." Then after the words of Consecration, bowing down before the sacred species on the altar, the celebrant says: "Humbly we beseech Thee, Almighty God, to command that by the hands of Thy holy Angel, this our Sacrifice be uplifted to thine altar on high."
Now let us understand what was done by the English Reformers in the new service drawn up in 1549 to take the place of the ancient Mass. In a general way it may be said that up to the Gospel the first Communion service followed outwardly at least the old Missals. The ritual offering of the bread and wine, however, with the prayers expressing oblation and sacrifice—a part which was known as the Offertory—was swept away altogether in the new service. In its place was substituted a few sentences appropriate to almsgiving and a new meaning was given to the word "Offertory," which has since come to signify a collection. This change is significant of the Eucharistic doctrines of the German Reformers and is fully in accord with Cranmer's known opinions in regard to oblation and sacrifice, every expression or idea of which was ruthlessly removed from the new Book. The old prayer, called the Secret, which almost invariably contained a mention of the Sacrifice about to be offered, was left out.
Following upon the Offertory and Secret comes the Preface, or immediate preparation for the sacred Canon. This, with certain unimportant changes, was allowed to stand in the new composition as it was in the Missal. But the last words of the Sanctus, with which the Preface invariably concludes: "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord," although allowed to stand in the first Book of Common Prayer of 1549, was removed in the subsequent Book of 1552, and does not find a place in the present Communion Service. The reason for this later change is obvious. With the new Canon we come to understand the full significance of the changes made in the new liturgy. Our present detailed knowledge of the Canon of the Mass goes back for thirteen hundred years, and, with the exception of one short clause inserted by St. Gregory the Great, it has remained unchanged to the present day. This alone is a sufficient testimony to the veneration in which the prayer was regarded. It was a sacred heritage, coming to the Catholic Church from unknown antiquity, and it was substantially the same in every Western liturgy.
The Canon of the First Communion service was, so far as ideas go, an absolutely new Canon. Outwardly, even, it was so different to the Canon of the Mass that it was characterised by the common people as "a Christmas game." It offers prayers to God in place of "these gifts, these offerings, these holy undefiled sacrifices" of the Catholic Canon; and in a word, every idea or expression of the ancient doctrine of sacrifice was studiously omitted by the composers of the new Prayer Book. In fact, the words of "Consecration," or as they are now frequently called, "Institution," which it might have been supposed even Cranmer would have respected as too sacred to touch or tamper with, are changed for a formula taken from the new Lutheran use of Nuremberg, which had been drawn up by Osiander, Cranmer's relative by marriage.
In brief, then, it is impossible for any unbiased mind to compare the ancient Canon of the Holy Mass—the Canon which still exists unchanged in our Missals to-day—with the relative part of the new Communion service without seeing that both in spirit and substance the First Prayer Book of Edward VI was conceived with the design of getting rid of the Catholic Mass altogether.  It was as little a translation of the Latin Missal as the similar Lutheran productions of Germany, which were ostensibly based upon the design of getting rid of the sacrificial character of the Mass altogether. The First Prayer Book of 1549 merely represented one stage of the downgrade of Eucharistic doctrine in departure from the old Catholic beliefs towards the more advanced Protestant schools of thought represented by Calvin and others. So another—the second liturgy of Edward VI—was soon in preparation and was issued in 1552.
 For the convenience of those interested this comparison may be found at the end of this lecture.
In one thing only did it differ. In the First Prayer Book the Communion service contained some shreds of a Canon,—a new Canon, it is true, but a Canon,—whereas Luther's declared intention was to get rid of what he called "the abominable Canon" altogether, leaving only the words of Institution. This too was effected in the Second Prayer Book of 1552. In this also there is one significant omission amongst a number of other changes. From the "Sanctus" after the Preface and immediately leading up to the Canon the words "Blessed is He who cometh in the name of the Lord" are omitted as if to emphasise the rejection of the doctrine of Transubstantiation in the new formulae.
It is unnecessary to do more than point out that the rejection of authority in religious matters had already the consequences which any reasonable man would have prophesied for a system of religion founded upon the royal power, or, as in this case of the young King Edward, upon the personal opinions of his ministers. It is in some quarters the fashion nowadays to assume that there were no substantial changes in the Liturgy of the Church at this period, and that the Catholic Mass and the Anglican Communion service to-day are essentially and substantially the same. To any one, who will put the one by the side of the other and note the changes and omissions, it must appear as clear as the noonday sun that there is a difference, essential and substantial, depending upon doctrinal teaching, on which there should be no misunderstanding. I am not here concerned to determine whether these changes were good or bad. What I wish to make clear is that these changes were made, and that they are significant of a change in doctrine.
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts
|[Our Lord] who made there [upon the Cross] by his one oblation once offered, a full perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction . . . and did institute and in his holy Gospel command us to celebrate a perpetual memory of that his precious death. |
|—to receive and to bless these gifts, these oblations, these holy and spotless hosts which we offer up to Thee—||—to receive these our prayers and supplications
which we offer unto  thy Divine Majesty.
|Wherefore, we beseech Thee O Lord to be appeased by this oblation which we . . . offer|
|Vouchsafe to bless this same Oblation to take it for Thy very-own . . . so that on our behalf it may be made into the Body and Blood of J. C., etc.||Vouchsafe to bless and  sanctify these thy gifts and creatures of bread and wine, that they may be unto us the Body and Blood—|
|Wherefore . . . we . . . offer up to thine Excellent. Majesty ... a Victim which is pure, a Victim which is holy, a Victim which is stainless, the holy Bread of life everlasting and the Cup of eternal salvation . . .||Wherefore... we do celebrate and make here before Thy Divine Majesty, with these Thy holy gifts the memorial which Thy Son hath willed us to make . . . desiring [thee] to accept this our Sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving . . .|
|and we offer and present unto Thee ourselves, our souls and bodies to be a reasonable, holy and lively sacrifice to Thee|
|Humbly we beseech Thee, Almighty God to command that by the hands of Thy Holy Angel, this our Sacrifice be uplifted to thine Altar on high||accept this our bounden duty and service and command these our prayers and supplications by the ministry of Thy Holy Angels to be brought up into Thy holy Tabernacle |
 Blessed is he who cometh, etc., left out in 1552 and subsequent
 This is still found in the Communion Service.
 Omitted in 1552
 Omitted in 1552. The American Service has accept this our bounden duty and Service as above, but LEAVES out "and command these," etc.
LAST Sunday I spoke of the Catholic doctrine of the Mass and the Holy Eucharist; I pointed out what our faith taught us about the Blessed Sacrament and how the Mass was to our Catholic forefathers and to us to-day, the central act of worship of God; and that the Holy Communion in a very true sense is the food of our spiritual life, as it binds us to God and brings Him into our lives in truth and in reality, which is the end and object of every act of religion. I pointed out to you that by the principles of the Reformation, adopted by the followers of the Lutheran theology in England, the Mass, as a "Sacrifice and Oblation," was not merely attacked doctrinally, and spoken of by the men of the "New Learning" with scurrilous profanity, but destroyed altogether, as far as it was possible for them to do. The service of Communion in the New Book of Common Prayer, designed to take the place of the ancient missals, was drawn up in such a way as to get rid of every expression of the Catholic doctrine as to the Sacrifice of the Mass, absolutely. If the old dictum lex orandi est lex credendi—prayer follows belief—has any application at all, it must be obvious in this case that the authors of the new English Prayer Book had completely rejected the Catholic belief as to the Most Holy Sacrament. The proof lies not in the new forms only when compared with the old, but in the clear and definite statements of those who had the main share in drawing up the Communion Service of the Book of Common Prayer and the chief part in imposing its acceptance upon the people of England.
I know well that in comparatively late times one school of thought in the English Church have endeavoured to get back to the old Catholic doctrine of the Sacrifice of the Mass. Some have been so dissatisfied with the formula of the Communion in the Book of Common Prayer that they have added to it and have even in some cases made use of our ancient Canon from the Latin missal. In other instances, as in the Communion Service in the American Church, a longer Canon had been adopted, taken from the First Prayer Book of 1549 and arranged differently from that of the Second Book now in use in England. But the doctrine in this is in no sense our Catholic doctrine. For, although the words "sacrifice" and "oblation" may be found in it, as indeed in the Anglican prototype, the word signifies not the Catholic sacrifice, the offering up of the Body and Blood of our Lord as a living victim upon the altar, but as the words in the Communion office define it, "our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving," in which "we offer and present ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy and living sacrifice unto thee." Mind, for my present purpose, I am not here contending that the work of the Reformers in the 16th century in thus composing a new formula was wrong. All I would insist upon is that this was in fact done; that certain ancient Catholic principles were abandoned in the New Communion Service, and that this new Book by the authority of the State was imposed upon the consciences of all.
That the change thus forcibly effected was disliked very generally cannot be doubted. The new Service was ordered to come into general use in the Churches on Whitsunday, 1549, and the very next day the people of Stamford Courtenay in Devon compelled their parish priest to return to the old missal. This was but an indication of the spirit of the people and a beginning of those numerous disturbances in various parts of the country which for a time seriously alarmed the men in power. In Oxfordshire the rising was put down with a firm hand and many priests were hanged from the towers of their parish churches, as the obvious leaders of their people to resist these innovations. In Devonshire the rising took a more serious aspect and the people assembled in their thousands demanding the restoration of the Latin Mass and the abolition of the new service in English, which they described as "a Christmas game." "We will have," they said, "the Mass as of old and the Blessed Sacrament hanging in our churches"; and to show the religious character of their revolt against the State-imposition of the new form of religion, the insurgents carried the Most Holy Sacrament in a pyx in their midst, and marched with processional crosses and banners. By the aid of foreign mercenaries—German and Italian—they were defeated, and thousands, some say twenty thousand of the men who rose in defence of the Catholic doctrine of the Mass were slaughtered.
We have now to go a step farther in our contrast of our Catholic belief with the Reformation principles. This morning I propose to speak of the sacred priesthood. The Catholic doctrine of the Sacrifice of the Mass imples a sacrificing priesthood. To us a priest in the first place is a man chosen, set aside and consecrated for the service of the altar. He is a man and, alas! sometimes, in spite of the dignity of his calling, he shows himself to be very human; but by the vocation of God that is given to him and by his ordination at the hands of the bishop he receives a character which nothing can take away and which enables him to stand before the altar and offer the Christian Sacrifice. At his word, spoken by the power God has given him, he changes the elements of bread and wine into the true and real Body and Blood of Christ, and offers them to God a sacrifice for the living and the dead. This is the Catholic belief as to the priesthood, and it has been the belief of Catholics from the earliest ages. I am not concerned to prove this, but merely state it as a part of our belief.
As might be expected, the doctrine is set forth clearly in the form of Ordination, to be found in the ancient Pontificals, or Books containing those forms, which to-day are practically the same as those used in England in the sixteenth century. If we take the rite of Ordination to the priesthood we shall immediately note in the address of admonition to the candidates that the Bishop speaks of the purity of life necessary for those "who celebrate Mass and consecrate the Body and Blood of Christ"; whose hands are anointed "that they may know that they receive the grace of Consecrating"; and who receive the chalice and paten to show "they receive the power of offering sacrifices pleasing to God, since it belongs to them to consecrate the sacrament of the Body and Blood of the Lord on God's altar." The candidate is likewise reminded of the excellence of the priestly office by virtue of which the Passion of Christ is daily celebrated on the altar.
In the course of the rite, the priest's hands are blessed, since he is to consecrate the sacrifice offered for the sins and offences of the people; and he is given the chalice, etc., to show forth and emphasise the power to offer sacrifice and celebrate the Mass; and in the final blessing God is asked to bless the newly ordained in the priestly order who is to offer Sacrifices pleasing to Him. In a word the whole Ordination service in the Catholic Pontifical reiterates and most emphatically states the fact that the priest is ordained to offer up the Sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ upon the altar. This is the dominant note running through the entire rite: the ordained is made a "sacrificing priest." Towards the close of the ceremony, and after the new priest has acted as such by co-consecrating with the Bishop at Mass, the Bishop gives him the power of jurisdiction by placing his hands upon his head saying: "Receive the Holy Ghost: whose sins ye shall forgive they are forgiven," etc.
This was the rite of Ordination to the priesthood which was in existence in England at the time when the First Prayer Book of Edward VI was imposed on the English clergy and people. On the face of it there could be no possibility of allowing this old Ordination service to stand as it was. The Mass had been changed into a Communion service,—a memorial of Christ's Passion,—and the doctrinal teaching of the former had been made, rightly or wrongly, to give place to the Reformed principles clearly expressed in the latter. The notion of oblation and sacrifice was now wholly foreign to the Eucharistic teaching, as understood by the followers of the Lutheran German reformed religion, who had presided over the composition of the new Prayer Book. It became therefore necessary to draw up another form for the Ordination of ministers, conceived on the same doctrinal basis as that of the Book of Common Prayer.
This new Ordinal was in fact already prepared when the Prayer Book was issued, and on January 5, 1550, a Bill to sanction it was introduced into the House of Peers. It gave rise to much discussion, and for refusing to assent to it one of the bishops was lodged in the prison where others of the Catholic-minded prelates were already confined. The "New form and manner of making and consecrating archbishops, bishops, priests, and deacons" was, however, approved of by Parliament in anticipation and ordered to be ready for April 1.
The new Ordinal did in regard to the ancient Catholic Pontifical what the Communion service had done for the Missal. Having first swept away all the minor Orders and the Subdiaconate, the new form carefully and systematically excluded every word that could be interpreted to mean that the candidate was ordained to be a sacrificing priest. For the most part the new rite was a new composition, drawn up to meet the doctrinal views as to the Holy Eucharist of the English Reformers of advanced Lutheran principles. One of the few passages of the Pontifical preserved in the Ordinal were the words, "Receive the Holy Ghost: whose sins ye shall forgive," etc, which accompanied the Imposition of Hands after the ordination in the ancient rite and conferred "the power of the Keys." In the new rite this subordinate form became the substantial form of the new Ordination service, although in it there was for a hundred years, until 1662, no mention of the Order conferred. There can be hardly any doubt that this omission came about by the adoption of the old form by the compilers of the new Ordinal. In the case of the Catholic Pontifical no such specific mention was called for, as when used in that to convey jurisdiction, the priest was already ordained and had co-celebrated with the Bishop.
Once more I repeat that I am not here concerned with any discussion as to whether the new Ordinal was better or worse than the ancient Pontifical. I desire merely to bring out the facts and to make it clear that the service of Holy Communion in the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordination service in a doctrinal point of view go together. They are the expression of a change, of a serious organic change from the ancient teachings of the Faith, as expressed in the Missal and Pontifical. The Prayer Book and the Ordinal of Edward VI were the serious expression of the deliberate alteration in the Eucharistic teachings of the official heads of the Church in England at this time. They constituted a break, clear, sharp and decisive with the past. There can be no doubt of this in view of the facts. The change may have been for good or for ill, but it can hardly be denied that it was made, and made not by accident but of set purpose. It was a deliberate breach in the continuity of teaching as to the Holy Eucharist and the Sacrifice of the Mass, which had existed in the Church in England from the earliest days of Christianity; and the new teaching found its expression in the new formularies. 
 The subsequent history of the Anglican Church shows that even the need of Episcopal ordination was not considered absolutely necessary for the administration of the Sacraments in that Communion. It was not, indeed, until 1662 that it was legally necessary for a beneficed clergyman to have been so ordained. Bishop Hooker himself admitted the ministration and received the Communion from the hands of Saravia who was a Calvinistic minister. The truth of this position is upheld by the present Anglican Bishop of Durham in a letter to the London Times of Dec. 13, 1913. He cites as witnesses: "Bancroft, who carried his colleagues, including Andrews, with him in consecrating Presbyterian ministers Bishops for Scotland in 1609; Andrews, who claims 'our government to be by Divine right, yet it follows not that a Church cannot stand without it': Ussher, who says (to Du Moulin), after a solemn assertion of the greatness of Episcopacy, that he is prepared, to receive the Blessed Sacrament at the hand of the French ministers if he were at Charenton' . . . and Cosin, asserting in his Will his 'union of soul with all the orthodox,' 'which I desire chiefly to be understood of Protestants and the best Reformed Churches.'"
There can be no doubt as to what the ardent Reformers, who had the matter in hand, intended to do. The press teemed with books of ribald denunciation of the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Orders of the ancient Catholic rite were derided in such terms as "greasy and stinking" Orders. Moreover, the destruction of the altars obviously emphasised the change which had taken place. The abolition of the Sacrifice and the Sacrificing priesthood made them obsolete and unnecessary. Bishop Ridley, a reforming prelate of the most uncompromising type, directed the Churchwardens of London to pull down the popish altars and to procure in their place "the form of a table" in order "more and more to turn the simple from the old superstitious opinions of the popish Mass." The substitute for the Catholic altars was to be "after the form of an honest table decently covered," and was to be placed anywhere in the chancel or choir, as was found most convenient. At St. Paul's, London, for example, various experiments were made both as to the best position of the table and as to how best the minister could stand at it. Four years later Bishop White of Winchester taunted Ridley about this. "When your table was constituted," he said, "you could never be content in placing the same, now east, now north, now one way, now another, until it pleased God of His goodness to place it clean out of the Church."
Beyond this the altar-stones, which by solemn rites and the unction of Holy Oil had been consecrated to God for the Sacrifice of the Mass, and upon which the Body and Blood of Christ had been offered daily for the living and the dead, were not only pulled down, cast out of the church and defaced, but were out of derision and contempt set in the floor or the doorway that the passer-by might tread them under foot; or were turned to other still more debased uses. To us Catholics the consecrated altar, with its relics of the saints and the memories of its hallowed consecration, is the most sacred thing, set apart to God's service, together with the chalice and the paten in which and upon which the mystery of the sacramental renewal of Christ's Passion is effected by the words of the priest. It was this hallowed stone which was treated with disdain and dishonour. To those who would have us think that the whole of the changes made at the time of the Reformation were mere protests, against what they please to call the abuse of the Mass, in the multiplication of Masses for the living and the dead, the fact of the contemptuous and wholesale destruction of the ancient altars and the substitution of a moveable table, should be sufficient to show that it was no abuse that was thought of, or aimed at, but the abolition of the Sacrifice altogether.
But there were other indications that this abolition of the Mass and priesthood was the set policy of the men in power at this time. A more advanced Calvinist than even Ridley urged the party forward on the down grade of Catholic doctrine. In 1550 John Hooper was offered the bishopric of Gloucester, but refused it, partly because of the mention of Saints in the New Ordinal, but mainly because of the vestments, which he would be called upon to wear and which he regarded as aaronic abominations. "You have got rid of the Mass," he said, "then rid yourselves of the feathers of the Mass also." Later, however, when in doctrinal principle Cranmer and others had advanced further in the direction of Calvin, Hooper was consecrated according to the new Ordinal on his own terms. The Mass was gone; the priesthood had passed away; the altars were pulled down in the sanctuaries; the consecrated stones were broken and dishonoured, and why should not the Vestments—Aaronic abominations—indicative of the sacrificial character of the priest be dispensed with also?
The time was propitious for Cranmer to take measures for the final destruction of the old order. Since the imposition of the First Book of Common Prayer he had had time to grow out of his previous Lutheranism and had come under the spell of Calvin and his adherents in Geneva. The Reformer had written to Cranmer a personal letter urging him to be more active and hasten on the movement of Reform. The Archbishop of Canterbury had replied begging Calvin to ply King Edward with letters urging him to eradicate the last vestiges of the old superstition. This was the spirit which presided at the composition of the Second Book of Edward VI. It was issued in 1552, and before this commissions were dispatched throughout the country to seize in the King's name all church plate and vestments.
I have already spoken a word about this final recension of the Liturgy of Edward VI. It is here sufficient to say that it was Calvinistic in its conception and doctrine. In the First Prayer Book there was some slight outward resemblance to the Mass. This was swept away, and, to use the expression of one who lived at the time, this new liturgy "had made a very hay of the Mass." Of the ancient Canon, which the Apostolic See had possessed from the earliest ages and had kept inviolate, nothing was allowed to survive, even as to form. Great Popes like St. Leo and St. Gregory had inserted a few words into this inheritance of the Church with fear and reverence. Such men would have considered it sacrilegious and impious to alter or reject any part of it. Cranmer and his followers felt no such scruples. They first mutilated it and altered it to their heart's content and finally got rid of nearly every word of it altogether. The outcome of their work may be studied in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer to-day, where the Communion Service is substantially that of the Book of 1552.
BEARING in mind what the Catholic teaching was and is in regard to the Supremacy of the Pope, the Holy Mass and the sacrificial character of the priesthood, we can understand how far away from these teachings the legislation of King Edward's reign had carried England. To our Catholic forefathers in the beginning of the 16th Century, as to us to-day, the Pope was the Supreme Head of the Christian Church and the foundation of Christian unity. The Mass was the great Christian Sacrifice in which the bread and wine were substantially changed into the very Body and Blood of our Blessed Lord. The priest at his Ordination was given a sacrificial character, expressed clearly in the rite, empowering him to offer up the Eucharistic Sacrifice upon the Christian altar. In the second quarter of the 16th Century all these points of belief were changed by a small but determined band of English Reformers.
For a few years, on the death of Edward VI, Mary restored the old religion; the papal supremacy and jurisdiction was again acknowledged; the altars were once more set up; the ancient liturgy of the Mass was read again from the old missals; priests were again ordained according to the rite in the Catholic Pontifical, and the ordinations of those who had received orders under the Edwardine Ordinal were rejected. I pass over the reign of Queen Mary, which came to an end with her death in November, 1558. I am dealing with Catholic beliefs contrasted with the principles of the Reformation, and in this brief reign of Queen Mary the country returned to union with Rome, and all that this implied.
Of this reign, however, I may be allowed perhaps to add the verdict of the late Dr. James Gairdner, a non-Catholic historian, than whom no one has a greater right to speak with authority. "History has been cruel to her (Mary's) memory. The horrid epithet 'bloody,' bestowed so unscrupulously alike on her and on Bonner and Gardiner and the bishops generally, had at least a plausible justification in her case from the severities to which she gave her sanction. . . . Among the victims, no doubt, there were many true heroes and really honest men, but many of them also would have been persecutors if they had had their way. Most of them retained the belief in a Catholic Church but rejected the Mass and held by the services authorised in Edward VI.'s reign. But of course this meant complete rejection of an older authority—higher according to the time-honoured theory than that of any king or Parliament—which had never been openly set aside until that generation."
With Queen Mary's premature death religious difficulties revived. At first it was not generally known whether her successor, Elizabeth, would remain staunch to the old religion or favour the new, although there were suspicions that she was inclined to the latter. She was welcomed as sovereign by all parties, Catholic as well as Protestant, and no one now I believe credits the silly story that she was forced into the arms of the Reformers by the refusal of the Pope to recognise her as lawful Queen.
Almost from the first it was easy to conjecture which way lay her inclination. By the advice of Cecil, her chief adviser, she formed a secret cabinet within a cabinet, which occupied itself with a project for "the alteration of religion," as it is called in the document still extant. Those "now in the Pope's religion" were to be got rid of, and by process of law all were to be made to "abjure the Pope of Rome and conform themselves to the new alterations." What these "alterations" in the form of religion signified is not doubtful. They meant the reintroduction of the liturgical reforms of Edward's reign, including the abolition of the Catholic missal and Ordinal.
One of the first measures proposed to Parliament at the beginning of the new reign was the Act of Royal Supremacy. Its object was of course to do away with the Spiritual Supremacy of the Pope and substitute that of the Crown, and a stringent oath admitting this was to be required of all holding any office in the State. By this, every adherent of the old faith was deliberately excluded from any and every position in the Church or State.
At this time ten of the English Sees were vacant and the brunt of the battle for the preservation of the old religion fell upon the diminished number of Bishops in the House of Lords. Their hands were, however, strengthened greatly by a solemn pronouncement made by the clergy in Convocation, wherein they declared their entire belief in the Catholic, as opposed to the Reformed teaching of the existence of the "natural body of Christ" under the "species of bread and wine" in "the Sacrament of the Altar, by virtue of the word of Christ, spoken by the priest." They declared also their belief in the doctrine of Transubstantiation and in the Sacrifice of the Mass, and at the same time affirmed "that to Blessed Peter and to his lawful successors in the Apostolic See, as Vicars of Christ, has been given the supreme power of feeding and ruling the Church of Christ upon Earth and of confirming their brethren." The English universities at this time also made the same declaration. Thus, when change of religion and the readoption of the principles of the Reformed Churches of Germany which had ruled in the days of Edward VI. was in the air, the unfettered Church in England, the bishops, clergy and the teaching bodies boldly declared for the old catholic faith of the Holy Eucharist, the Mass and the Supremacy of the Pope.
But, the power was again in the hands of those who desired the "alteration of religion," as it was called, and this was effected mainly by three acts of Parliament. By the first, the tenths on Ecclesiastical property were given over to the crown; by the second, the Supremacy of the sovereign in matters ecclesiastical was reaffirmed; and the third, the Act of Uniformity authorised and imposed under serious penalties the Reformed Prayer Book of Edward VI. in place of the ancient Catholic Missal and Pontifical. The Bishops in the House of Lords fought these measures step by step and unanimously voted against them. With a few unimportant modifications the new Eucharist office was that of the second Book of Common Prayer of 1552—the Book, from which every vestige of the mass in its essential parts had been removed. After a struggle, in which by some means the defenders of the old religion delayed the passage of the measure, it was passed by a majority of only three votes, and without the support of one single spiritual peer. To a man the Bishops of the Church opposed the Bill. The famous speeches of Bishop Scot and of Abbot Feckenham, in which they challenged history to produce a single instance where the bishops of any church were not consulted and listened to in so momentous a change, were the last constitutional efforts of the Church of England to prevent the innovations in matters of religion being imposed by Parliament upon the consciences of those who regarded them as heretical. The very narrow majority, which carried this religious revolution, makes it more than likely that their arguments had weight. There can be no reasonable doubt that had ten episcopal sees not been vacant at this time the intentions of the Government would have been defeated, at least for a time, and the new Liturgy would not then have been imposed upon all by an act of Parliament. As it was, the Elizabethan settlement of religion—as it is called—rested obviously on the infallibility of the odd three votes of the majority.
It was now that the "Act of Uniformity in Religion" came to be enforced. By it the Tudor maxim Cujus regio ejus religio—that must be the religion of a kingdom, which is the religion of the ruler—was carried out in practice. The form of religion authorised by the Queen and the Parliamentary majority was the only one allowed. The consciences of individuals were disregarded, and just as in the days of the persecuting pagan Emperors Christians were compelled by force to throw incense on the altars of the pagan gods, so now with equal disregard for freedom of conscience Catholics—those who refused to accept the Elizabethan settlement of religion—were forced by fines, imprisonment and other penalties, to attend the new services in their parish churches. They became known as "Recusants" for refusing to be present at the Communion Service of the English Prayer Book, which had again taken the place of the Holy Mass.
Then, too, began a systematic attempt to stamp out the old religion. The priesthood was proscribed, and priests were hunted down and exiled for offering up the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; and, during the centuries of persecution, which began with the reign of Queen Elizabeth, hundreds of priests and others were put to death for the sole crime of having said or having been present at the Mass. In the well-known phrase of one of the present English cabinet ministers: "It was the Mass that mattered," and the real struggle was for this all along the line. To the Catholic, who realised all that the Mass meant,—how it was the centre of his religion and the sublime Christian Sacrifice, it was a point of honour and conscience to imperil fortune and even life for so sacred a heritage. To the Protestant in those days the Mass was a fable and dangerous deceit, and with Luther he desired above all things to root out this superstition from the land; and so, as there could be no Mass without a Mass-priest, all the efforts of those in power were directed towards extirpating all those who continued in spite of the laws to exercise their ministry, and to prevent others coming from abroad to continue their work, when they either perished on the scaffold, or worn out by the long continued persecution and constant searches for them, passed away in their hiding places. In England and in Ireland the record of this terrible time makes us wonder how it was possible that any remnant of the old religion could have survived.
Cecil, who was the master brain directing the policy of Queen Elizabeth, had counted upon the gradual extinction of the old Marian priesthood and the consequent eradication of the old Faith from the hearts of a people left without priest or teacher or Sacraments. From 1580 the coming of the Jesuits and seminary priests from abroad, to keep the light of the Faith alive if possible, in spite of fines and the rack and gallows, made it clear to the all-powerful minister that he had miscalculated the effect of his repressive policy. From that time the persecution began in earnest.
What contributed no doubt to increase the trials of the English and Irish Catholics was the embarrassing excommunication pronounced by Pope Pius V against Queen Elizabeth. It furnished the government with a weapon they were not slow to seize upon, by making it appear to the popular mind as if a political offence, if not a criminal treason, was connected with the exercise of the Catholic faith. Catholics for being Catholics were henceforth treated as traitors. For the last twenty years of this reign, with one exception, there were numerous executions for religion in England. Most of those who suffered thus were priests—Mass-priests as they were called in derision of their sacerdotal character. Thousands of men and women also were punished under the penal laws for the exercise of the old religion. Fines and imprisonment were the lot of those who refused at any price to accept the religious settlement of the sovereign—to accept the form of religion which their consciences refused. The sad records of this period show that many a Catholic family was impoverished and destroyed by the fines levied upon it. Gradually even great estates had to be sold to meet the demands of penal laws against recusancy—the refusal to attend the Protestant service. Then followed a long period of repression and ostracism. For two centuries the unfortunate papist was shut out of the life of the nation and subject to every insult and baseless accusation. One writer who lived during this period says of this system: "The experience of Elizabeth's reign had shown that the infliction of actual death roused a life-giving enthusiasm among Catholics themselves and sympathy in the witnesses of their sufferings. The penal system now introduced was the preference for gagging a man, binding him hand and foot, bandaging his eyes and imprisoning him for life, rather than killing him outright."
Everywhere throughout England and Ireland there was a stolid and heroic resistance to the imposition of the new form of State church on the part of those who remained true to the old religion. Looking back to those days of darkness and despair it seems impossible to believe that any remnant of those who would not bow their knees to Baal could survive the system by which it was hoped to crush them. And when liberty of conscience was at last accorded it was more in the spirit of compassion than in any expectation that they could revive and live again that it was given. As well might the world think that the worship of Pan or of Jupiter would spring again into life as that the poor, despised, dying Catholics could expand and grow once more into a position of respect and influence, reasserting and publicly upholding the principles of the Catholic Faith, for which their forefathers in England and Ireland had suffered persecution and even death.
These principles I have endeavoured to set out during the past four Sundays. Mainly there were only three, which were attacked by the upholders of the Reformation doctrines. The Papal Supremacy over the Church, the safeguard of unity of Faith, and a mark of the Church, Christ established in this world; the Christian Sacrifice—the Mass, attacked and swept away by the Reformers; and the Priesthood in its sacrificial character, which was the necessary consequence of the Eucharistic doctrine upheld by the German and English Reformers. There were of course many minor points of Catholic belief and practice which were attacked and destroyed in these days; such, for example, as devotion to the Mother of God and the Saints, and the long established custom of blessed ashes and candles and the creeping to the Cross on Good Friday. But the main lines of departure from the Catholic Faith along which the Reformation moved were the three I have indicated. A return can be contemplated only by frankly facing the issues. To-day we find men of the highest intelligence and good faith claiming to have the same Christian sacrifice and the same sacrificing priests as the Catholic Church, and they are using a Communion Service from which of set purpose every notion of Oblation and Sacrifice has been ruthlessly removed, and their ministers are ordained by an Ordinal, which designedly was composed to express the rejection of the sacrificial character of the Christian priest. The prayer for Christian Unity must go up from every heart, but if it is to be something more than sentiment, the facts must be faced frankly and with courage.