When will the monks return?
This blog first posted in 2013. Updated 2017.
ABOUT Gaudete, excerpts from Wikipedia. (Read more there).
(English: /ˈɡaʊdeɪteɪ/; Ecclesiastical Latin: [gawˈdetɛ] "rejoice" in Latin) is a sacred Christmas carol, which is thought to have been composed in the 16th century, but could easily have existed as a monophonic hymn in the late medieval period, with polyphonic Alto, Tenor, and Bass parts added during the 15th century, particularly due to its Medieval Latin lyrics. The song was published in Piae Cantiones, a collection of Finnish/Swedish sacred songs published in 1582. No music is given for the verses, but the standard tune comes from older [Catholic] liturgical books.
The Latin text is a typical medieval song of praise, which follows the standard pattern for the time – a uniform series of four-line stanzas, each preceded by a two-line refrain (in the early English [Catholic] carol this was known as the burden). Carols could be on any subject, but typically they were about the Virgin Mary, the Saints or Christmastide themes."
"Gaudete" set to music. Above is one contemporary version with great animation. Skip the commercial beforehand (if there is one).
Look for the symbolism
1. the of lighting of one candle in the darkness introducing the one, true light.
2. a star in the sky (the incarnation of Christ) vs destruction caused by fire (hate, violence and evil).
3. the monk candle burns down symbolizing the sacrifice required- the kind that can melt through the ice and snow of human coldness and inhumanity.
4.The chant among the ruins:
Christ is born
Of the Virgin Mary —
Recall too, that Churches are still being burned around the world today and Christians are still suffering violence.
This is topical. If you are happy with the warm and fuzzy video and don't want to go deeper then stop here. You are free to come and free to go. 😉
Inspiration for video
Where to find a burned out church? Here's one, burned during the English reformation and there's more. To find a good ruin, the animators did not need to search beyond their own Isle.
An English Manor and Chapel Church
Above you see the skeletal remains of Oxborough's Roman Catholic Church which is located near Oxburgh Hall, a 15th-century moated manor house (photos below).
The the noble Bedingfeld family of Oxburgh Hall were determined not to convert to Protestant Anglicanism and decided to practice their faith "underground". BY 1589, the first of several priest hides or holes were created within Oxburgh Hall in order to conceal visiting Catholic priests who were forbidden from practicing or propagating Catholicism in England. It was only after persecution abated and the penal acts were lifted in the late 18th century that Catholics were able to worship freely once more.
Although Catholic priests were never captured inside Oxburgh Hall, due to an excellent look out system and ingenious hiding places, Cromwell suspected that Catholic Masses were being celebrated there and in the area and so he took action. He ordered the local church above, a Bedingfeld family trust, burned as a warning to sympathizers and secret Catholics. The ruins still stand as an eerie reminder.
Fortunately, and most everyone would agree (I hope), Cromwell didn't live forever as he was notably sinister. "As a ruler, he executed an aggressive and effective foreign [genocidal] policy. He died from natural causes in 1658 and was buried in Westminster Abbey. [When] the Royalists returned to power in 1660, they had his corpse dug up, hung in chains, and beheaded."
Above you see his plaster cast death mask which was eventually donated to the Nottingham, England museum. To give an idea of Cromwell's size, the model, Dave, is 6 feet tall in comparison.
The Cost of Truth
Any captured Catholic priest was, after a public sentencing, taken away to be drawn and then quartered. Any accomplices were executed as well.
The recognition of the "Forty Martyrs of England" draws attention to only a fraction of those who suffered unjust persecution and death.
The inside of Harvington Hall, depicted above, was another manor where the Catholic faith was celebrated clandestinely. This large plaque is part of permanent display and is set up within a nearby Catholic parish. It serves to instruct visitors and church members alike.
You see bottom right, how one priest is cramped into a small hiding space and sometimes he would need to stay there, "trapped" for weeks, while government troops snooped about. Perhaps, with the thermal imaging technology of today, they would have been able to flush out a suspect. But not then.
Faithful and courageous individuals and groups did keep the Catholic flame burning in England during the worst years and it was at great personal risk and fortune. These heroic men, women and children believed that it was better to be on the side of the truth, no matter the cost. What they sacrificed in their day stands as a testimony for us today. As one acting Cardinal of the Catholic Church recently remarked "When priests and laypeople remain faithful to the unchanging and constant teaching and practice of the entire Church, they are in communion with all the popes, orthodox bishops and the saints of two thousand years..."
When will the monks return?
"Whenever the monks come back, marriages will come back". Chesterton
Chesterton's famous quote expresses concisely how one vocation has need of the other. Christianity's moral decay compromised both vocations, even in Chesterton's day. He perceived symbolic "cracks in the wall", while at the same time, the most elegant and hopeful English churches were being constructed throughout the land.
It was not any kind of marriage that Chesterton was referring to, but the sacramental and life-giving Catholic type of marriage, between man and woman. The bridal couple professes vows for life in a proclaimed covenant with God; and it is the same for monastic and priestly and many religious communities.
Without these committed and sacrificial structures, perfected by God in truth and for our own good and happiness, our traditional foundations will slowly fade away and only bricks and mortar will remain as evidence of what once was. Here is some good news (not): "closed churches become breweries".
We were told during a tour of Oxburg Hall (manor) that a most recent heir to Oxburgh Hall voluntarily abdicated his title and inheritance in order to join a monastic community. Noble.
How do practicing Catholics even begin to restore what has been spiritually lost to the Church, locally and throughout and world?
I am not very knowledgeable about one current English Bishop, Egan, but I think that he makes a good point in a recent article. Here is an excerpt:
....the most basic need, he wrote, "is that Portsmouth Catholics become holy'. This means, he said, 'That we seek holiness of life in imitation of Jesus, obedient (ob-audire) to God and legitimate authority, loving and respecting one another, and filled with the Holy Spirit, that we foster a joyful, positive, ‘can-do’ attitude...and to “lead the new evangelisation of our land” in the light of two dangers:
1. fundamentalism – “religion without reason” and
2. secularism – “reason without religion”.
For the definition of what "HOLY" means, perhaps begin here.
It is a high calling.
Our Lady will come back to England."
More about Chesteron's "monks" quote:
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