Thursday, June 10, 2010
I take God and all the world to witness that I have been to you a true, humble and obedient wife.
- Catherine of Aragon

Once in the fifteenth century, there was a troubled, young, English prince born to a morally bankrupt father and second in line to a brother who was equal to their father in personal laxity. Though devoted to the Faith and to study, this younger royal would likely have been distracted, sometime in his thirteenth or fourteenth year, by the many whisperings in court of the desperate struggle of the English to outpace the King of Scotland by securing a Spanish princess as bride for the heir to the English throne.

The turn of the tide in Spain--effected by Isabella's succession of her ineffectual half-brother, united with the efforts of her husband--had restored order in the now bonded realms of Aragon and Castille. So impressed were the British lords that they had taken arms to assist in the
Reconquista, and wrought the beginning of what might have been a strong alliance betwixt Spain and England.

When the beautiful, sprightly, Spanish princess, Catherine, arrived at last on Britain's shore, Henry VII gloated. His son, Arthur, leered, and the young Henry VIII fell in love. So much so, that when he came of age he took no heed of his deceased father's connivance after a more profitable marriage for the new heir to the throne (Arthur having died from syphilis). After all, England now had the royal, Spanish widow--and cheaply too, as she was nearly starving in the damp castle where Arthur so quickly met his end. However, Henry immediately wed the still beautiful woman, though she was seven years his senior.

She became bone of his bone in everyway. His confidante, his aid, his co-ruler. She was willing to ride out with the troops to cheer them or to act as regent while he was abroad. In the early stages of her misfortunes in child-bearing, the 'Defender of the Faith' at first consoled her, bearing the pain with his wife as a true husband.
But then, for some horrific reason, Henry VIII lost the Faith, or rather, he did his best to lose it.

Popular culture for once has it quite right when it either sternly or jokingly states that only the poison of lust can truly account for the king's defection. The argument of requiring a male heir or the scruples over the possibility of incest are as feeble as claims that Cardinal Wolsey was papist or that St. Thomas More was a pettifogger.
Did Henry want a son? Undoubtedly. Did he need one? Come now! This was not the world that the Left would make it out to be.

Catherine was the daughter of the woman who had had the naked sword of sovereignty borne before her in the procession of her coronation--the woman and the
one who had taken her nation's destiny back. When her husband, Ferdinand, felt a tinge of macho resentment at his wife's independence, she gently reminded him that as they only had daughters at that point in their marriage, even the feminine right to rule must be recognized. Ferdinand conceded this argument, and it is unlikely that Henry VIII was less reasonable.

Turning aside a moment--it is bitterly ironic that Henry's son would perish from the disease Henry contracted in attempting to beget him. The rotund monarch's daughters would be his only successors, and yes, they remained on the throne until their deaths.

Did Henry truly have scruples over taking his brother's wife? What! after receiving a dispensation allowing the marriage from the Vicar of Christ in whose authority he believed? In fact, it was a dispensation that was only necessary in form, as Arthur's health did not permit him to consummate his brief marriage to Catherine. It is true that we have only the queen's word for this, but also no reason to distrust it. Her devotion to the truth and the physical condition of her bridegroom support her word.

Futhermore--concerning the king's conscience again--the same reasoning that would have nursed uneasiness in Henry's conscience would also have clearly forbidden him to have wed Anne Boleyn. Was she not the sister of Henry's former mistress? Where did those fastidious reservations fly? For whatever vile, sensual working in his mind, Henry was bent on union with a temperamental shrew, and likely for a reason as petty as this: Catherine's bloom was fading. As Hilaire Belloc said, the mind of a Tudor was acute, but not large.

What stood in this Tudor's way was the Church to whom he had always been devoted. He had hated the Protestant Revolution--both its doctrines and its habits from the beginning, but when Holy Mother Church would not let him have his way, he broke off all ties with Rome. Again, he was likely acting through his passions only, not seeing the ruin in store for the world of Christendom.

Henry then cruelly separated his wife from their daughter and left his spouse to die in the rotten hole from which he had previously rescued her. For the next 59 years (interrupted by the five year reign of Mary Tudor I), Henry VIII and Elizabeth I would spend their reigns stamping out vibrant English Catholicism via looting, persecution, and mass murder. A secular historian, who was documenting this era, spoke thus while touring a former home of Catholic nobility:

'What happened to Catholicism which had been so strong in England?' he opened a trapdoor, familiar to well taught schoolchildren as a priest's 'hidey hole,' and said curtly, 'It disappeared down here.'

What was left behind after this persecution? What was this new 'Anglican' Church? It looked like the Church of Rome ('tainted' with the 'gross shadow of popery' according to the Puritan and Pilgrim, William Bradford). But it was very much as if a man had murdered the woman he loved, constructed a machine, and did his best to fashion it after her image and being. Did this sect Henry fashioned to soothe his anti-Reformation sensibilities have any substance to it?

Cardinal Newman observed in the Development of Christian Doctrine that Protestantism, having rebelled against any religious authority, ritual, or devotion, often fades into agnosticism or atheism when it introduces logical speculation into its doctrine.

England's religious revolution was truly engineered by the powerful rich, the erstwhile 'reformers,' and the deluded Henry VIII. Of these three parties, that errant monarch died. The men who sought to revive 'primitive Christianity' quickly became irrelevant. Albania was left with a puppet of the opportunist aristocrats and the merchants who lived on generation after generation.

Their puppet of a church undoubtedly lost any right to the name 'creed' some time ago.

'I believed in the Church I joined, but it has been revealed to have
no doctrine of its own. I personally think it has gone past the point of no return.' _Bishop Broadhurst [emphasis mine]

The disillusionment of orthodox Anglican bishops brought droves of converts into the Catholic Church last year. Now the American Episcopalians have been removed from the Anglican Communion's ecumenical dialogues. The African Anglican Church is wedged further and further apart from the modernist errors of the Anglican community. Some Anglican converts are even speaking of regaining the churches stolen from Rome long ago. One may at last be seeing the return of Mary's Dowry, at least as far as believers are concerned. The majority of England is unabashedly secular.

It's strange that it has taken so many centuries for the cleavage in England to show signs of healing. What would have been a slight tug of war between monarch and pope in any previous age, was a complete severance due both to England's economic circumstances and Europe's revolutionary climate. Henry VIII managed to destroy everything he cared for: Catherine, the Church's place in England, and within a century and two years, the monarchy.

I have heard it said that there is no such thing as private sin. Every time we look up to the Heaven and shake our fist, every time we say 'no' to Reality, we can be sure that we will not be able to keep what we have done to ourselves. Failing in our duties, failing those we love the most, and failing God are crimes too great to be contained in our personal lives. They will spill out into the world, and we will have made ourselves part of what's wrong with this life.


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Warsaw, Poland
Domine, spero quia mundum vicisti. Lord, I trust that Thou hast overcome the world. Panie, ufam, żeś pokonał świat.
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