martes, 28 de junio de 2016

It was Sunday, October 19, 1595 when he left the Tower ...

A Model of Spiritual Courage for Our Time

Quanto plus afflictionis pro Christo in hoc saeculo, tanto plus gloriae cum Christo in futuro. (The more affliction we endure for Christ in this world, the more glory we shall obtain with Christ in the next.)
Words inscribed by Philip Howard upon the wall of his cell.

When he first entered the fastness of that grim London fortress from which so few ever return, young Philip Howard was only twenty-eight years of age, his sudden incarceration the result of a failed attempt to flee the country with his family. That he was the Earl of Arundel, scion of the noblest and most respected family in the realm, not to mention a former court favorite of his second cousin the Queen, counted not at all amidst the crude and cynical calculations of those in power. His own father, after all, the 4th Duke of Norfolk, long accustomed to moving in the highest possible circles of power and prestige in the country, had himself been executed for High Treason only a few years before. Why should they spare the eldest son? Because he wasn’t a traitor? Alas, not even the certainty of innocence would be permitted to stand in the way of an egregious exercise of injustice. The tyranny of the times, I am saying, would exact its cruelest revenge despite all the obvious exonerating circumstances.

So what had poor Philip done to draw such murderous attention? And it was surely that inasmuch as it was deliberately intended that he should spend the rest of his life wasting away in a prison cell, a dark and fetid place where, almost eleven years later, he would finally die of dysentery. The answer is quite simple. He had become a Roman Catholic, no greater infamy than which can be conceived in the world of Elizabeth I.

She and her compatriots had compiled quite a record by then of coercing and killing anyone who dared to resist the totalizing aims of the Anglican Settlement. And it is chiefly that fact which distinguishes the forty-five years she spent as England’s monarch, despite all the contortions of the mythologists anxious to portray her as Good Queen Bess, the Virgin Queen, who made England great again. It is all bosh. But those who persist in believing it have carried the day; it is their view that continues to shape the reading of the past. And what it testifies to, of course, is the triumph of Whiggery, which is the view that stipulates the iron necessity that whatever the cause was that won, will perforce become the cause that bloody well should have won. Because Elizabeth Tudor, no less than her father Henry before her, and let us not forget the whole thuggish crowd of Cromwells and Cecils that serviced the Crown, were absolutely agreed about one thing, namely the complete destruction of the Catholic Thing. By their combined efforts they pretty much succeeded in uprooting the entire landscape of what had heretofore been Catholic England. Thus establishing an entirely new historical narrative, which is that everything that happened pursuant to the annihilation of the ancient faith simply had to happen. That England became Protestant during the years of the Tudor dynasty is no surprise, therefore, since the whole point of their governance was the replacement of one religion with another. The imprisonment and death of papists like Philip Howard was the price that needed to be paid to secure that end.

So why leave intact so much evidence of innocence and integrity? If the ultimate aim of the self-styled Reformers was to expunge even the remotest memory of Catholicism from the consciousness of ordinary Englishmen, especially in light of their fixed belief that Rome was the Anti-Christ, one would think they’d have been a bit more thorough in removing the tokens of Catholic piety from among the recusant population.


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